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ARGENTINA | 19-06-2021 09:40

‘They killed Diego’ – Claims and counter-claims as prosecutors quiz Maradona’s medical team

Nursing coordinator denies responsibility in footballer’s death; Lawyer says doctors 'killed' icon via negligence.

The coordinator in charge of the nurses that treated Diego Maradona at his home denied any involvement in the football icon's death when interviewed by prosecutors in San Isidro on Friday.

Mariano Perroni, 40, is the third of seven people under investigation for manslaughter to testify in the case that has gripped the country.

Maradona, the Albiceleste’s legendary 1986 World Cup-winning captain died of a heart attack last November at the age of 60, just weeks after undergoing brain surgery for a blood clot.

"Perroni was never in the house, he doesn't know Maradona, he was never in contact with him," the coordinator's lawyer Miguel Ángel Pierri told reporters outside the public prosecutor's office on the outskirts of the capital Buenos Aires.

Prosecutors opened a criminal investigation after a board of experts looking into Maradona's death found he had received inadequate care and was abandoned to his fate for a "prolonged, agonising period."

"He was a sort of personnel coordinator, his job was to assemble the team of nurses to ensure they entered [the house] and completed their shifts," said Pierri of Perroni's role. "The treating doctors gave the medical directives."


‘They killed Diego’

Perroni's interview comes two days after a lawyer for one of the nurses that attended to Maradona told reporters that doctors "killed Diego" through their negligence.

"They killed Diego," attorney Rodolfo Baque told reporters after his client, nurse Dahiana Gisela Madrid, was questioned by prosecutors.

Madrid, 36, and fellow nurse Ricardo Almirón, 37 – two of the last people to see ‘El Diez’ alive – both said this week they were following the orders of his treating doctors.

They both admit to having failed to perform routine checks on Maradona just before he died.

Baque insisted it was the doctors treating Maradona while he recovered from the brain operation, not his client, who were to blame for the soccer legend's death. He said Maradona was being treated for heart trouble but at the same time was on psychiatric medication that sped up his heart rate.

Prosecutors say Perroni had "full knowledge of what was done and what was not done, particularly in terms of the management of nurses for the patient."

They also accuse him of having demonstrated "disinterested and indifferent behaviour, given the urgent situation."

Perroni's defence is that his role was merely administrative and involved collecting the nurses' reports and worksheets filled out when they changed shifts.

He claims to have passed on these documents to Nancy Forlini, 52, Maradona's home medical coordinator, who is also under investigation and will be interviewed this coming Monday.

Both Almirón and Madrid told prosecutors earlier this week that the house rented for Maradona did not contain the equipment necessary to treat a patient suffering from heart disease.

Both said they had not been told he suffered from heart disease and had been instructed not to disturb him while he rested.

When Madrid asked to have a CAT scan done on him, an aide to Maradona refused, arguing that if the press found out it would look bad, Baque said.

"There were many warning signs that Maradona was going to die, give or take a day. And none of the doctors did anything to prevent it,” said the lawyer.


Further questioning

Maradona famously battled cocaine and alcohol addictions throughout his life. The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star was suffering from liver, kidney and cardiovascular disorders when he died.

Psychiatrist Agustina Cosachov, 35, psychologist Carlos Díaz, 29, and neurosurgeon Leopoldo Luque are to be questioned next week.

Two of Maradona's children, Dalma and Gianinna, blame Luque for their father's deteriorating condition after the brain operation.

A panel of 20 medical experts convened by Argentina's public prosecutor said last month that Maradona's treatment was rife with "deficiencies and irregularities" and the medical team had left his survival "to fate".

If found guilty, the seven, who are barred from leaving the country, could face between eight and 25 years in prison.



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