Maradona’s death is set to go to trial in October. Here’s what you need to know

Eight people stand accused of creating an ‘accumulation of circumstances’ that led to his passing

“The last thing Diego Maradona told me was, ‘Don’t leave me alone,’” longtime friend Mariano Israelit said, remembering the last time the two saw each other a short time before the pandemic started. He added that, unfortunately, there was little he could do, as the football legend lived his final years surrounded by a close knit group that monitored his every move and isolated him from his friends and family.

For the better part of his life, Diego Maradona was arguably the most famous person in the world. With a larger-than-life persona to go along with his playing genius, he was a global celebrity well before the Internet was even a thing. But for all his fame and fortune, Diego apparently still suffered from a lingering fear that all of that could go away. 

The death of the man who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title on November 25, 2020, shocked the world. Journalists on air struggled to come up with words. Former teammates like Sergio Goycochea and Jorge Valdano choked up and wept when talking about their memories together. Even former rivals, like Carlo Ancelotti, teared up when the game paid tribute to one of it’s biggest exponents.

However, 1288 days after his passing, Diego Maradona isn’t any closer to finding peace. Family members questioned the circumstances of his death, as well as the care he was given in the years prior and the responsibility of those in charge of his well being. 

Those lingering doubts sparked an investigation into the people tasked with monitoring his health, which is now set to go to trial. Although proceedings were initially scheduled to start on June 4, the case has now been postponed to October. 

From what happened during Maradona’s final days up to who the defendants are and what the charges against them are, here’s all you need to know about what will surely be one of the biggest court cases in Argentine history.

Maradona’s last days

Maradona returned to Argentina in September 2019 following an 8-year stint coaching in the United Arab Emirates and Mexico. He immediately sought to begin working again and signed with relegation-battling Gimnasia Esgrima La Plata. Ever the natural motivator, the Pelusa started off his new campaign by creating a feel-good atmosphere around the club, although results didn’t always go their way.

Maradona disappeared from the public eye when the football season halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. He was last seen in public for his 60th birthday on October 30, 2020 — part of the celebrations as First Division football went back into action. He looked disheveled. Two people had to help him onto the pitch and he visibly struggled to focus.

Three days later, it was announced he would be undergoing surgery to remove a subdural hematoma on November 2 and that he’d move to the San Andrés closed neighborhood in Tigre, Buenos Aires Province, to recover. At the time, he was also in treatment for alcoholism.

The Argentine star was found unconscious around midday on November 25, 2020. They gave him RCP but were unsuccessful in their efforts to revive him. He was pronounced dead two hours later.

The autopsy determined that he had died from acute pulmonary edema secondary to chronic cardiac insufficiency. A dilated cardiomyopathy was also detected, meaning the heart had grown and its walls had weakened, decreasing its capacity to pump blood.

The investigation, however, has found that the medical professionals who were supposed to take care of him could bear some degree of responsibility for his death.

An “accumulation of circumstances”

The San Isidro Criminal Chamber of Appeals and Guarantees determined that Maradona’s main medical advisor, Leopoldo Luque, as well as his psychiatrist, Agustina Cosachov, and psychologist, Carlos Díaz, are responsible for his passing. Also included in the indictment are medical care coordinators Nancy Forlini and Mariano Perroni, nurses Ricardo Almirón and Dahiana Madrid, and designated doctor Pedro Di Spagna. 

The eight stand accused of involuntary manslaugher. In the document that sent the case to trial, the judges justified their decision by arguing that “between November 11 and 25, 2020, […], [the accused] infringed their duties and increased the risk […] bringing about the patient’s demise, which could’ve been prevented.”

It goes on to say that, as medical professionals who understood Maradona’s health issues and requirements, they left him in “a situation of abandonment” and to his “own luck” by taking measures contrary to the patient’s best interests and omitting their own responsibilities, which damaged Maradona’s health.

Based on the findings of a medical board that examined the case, the judges found that Luque didn’t administer proper medical care for his patient: he failed to perform proper checks and take Maradona to see doctors despite being in full knowledge of the former star’s condition. They also claim he “systematically ignored and disregarded symptoms and signs of potential cardiac insufficiency.” 

Cosachov is accused of failing to adopt necessary steps to properly care for Maradona and to “ensure the correct administration of the medication she had prescribed, disregarding side effects, and missing checks,” among other things.

The judges stated that Diaz failed in his responsibility to determine that Maradona should have been hospitalized and also sent to a rehabilitation center, which is required by law. He is also accused of interfering with Cosachov’s responsibilities and taking decisions that were far from his professional concerns.

The five other defendants stand accused of omitting several of their duties of care, creating  an “accumulation of circumstances” that led to Maradona’s death.

Money and muddied waters

For Mariano Israelit, who befriended Maradona in the 1980s, justice is still far away. “They treated him awful, and it makes it worse when you realize that they were biting the hand that fed them; they were his employees.”

Israelit went to school with Maradona’s brother and saw a lot of him while growing up. He  was even among those who joined el Diez during his long rehabilitation process in Cuba in 2000. However, even he struggles to convey the condition his friend was in the last time he saw him before he moved to San Andrés.

“They would keep him drunk, giving him beers without him asking,” Israelit told the Herald. “They would hide his cellphone, put him to bed and keep him away from his daughters when they visited. Nobody told me these things; I saw it firsthand.”

He added that the house in the Los Fresnos country in Bella Vista, Buenos Aires province — where Maradona lived between September 2019 and July 2020 — was “falling apart,” with water leaking everywhere. “In the storage room, there was more beer and wine than water,” he added.

Israelit, however, doesn’t trust that justice will come soon for Maradona. He spent over nine hours testifying for the investigation, and claims prosecutors Laura Capra, Cosme Irribarren, and Patricio Ferrari warned each other not to ask him “the wrong questions because this man knows too much.”

“When Diego returned from Mexico, he invited me to dinner. We reminisced about living in Cuba.  We didn’t have any money back then; we lived off of what Fidel provided.” At one point, he said,  ‘Now I’ve got over US$100 million.’”

For Israelit, the issue of money inevitably muddled the waters. “I was happy for him; he was quite the billing machine. I don’t know where all that money has gone now,” said Israelit.


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald