Diego Maradona’s personal physician has denied responsibility for his patient’s death after police raided his home and surgery on Sunday, seizing laptops, medical records, and mobile devices.
Reports in the Argentinian media said the searches were carried out as part of a manslaughter investigation involving the footballer’s doctor, the neurosurgeon Leopoldo Luque.
Maradona died of a heart attack on Wednesday at the age of 60, sparking a global outpouring of grief. The footballer’s death also triggered a police inquiry and claims from Maradona’s lawyer that emergency services had taken too long to arrive after being called to his home in the capital Buenos Aires.
It was not immediately clear what prompted Sunday morning’s searches, although Maradona’s daughters have reportedly voiced concerns over the treatment he was receiving at the time of his death. A justice system source told the La Nación newspaper investigators deemed the searches necessary after gathering unspecific “evidence”.
“If irregularities in Maradona’s home medical care are confirmed, we might be looking at the crime of manslaughter,” the source added.
Another source told the newspaper: “Because Luque was Maradona’s personal doctor, the decision was taken to search his home and surgery in search of documents that might determine whether there were irregularities in his treatment at home”.
At the time of his death Maradona had been recovering at a rented home in the suburbs of Buenos Aires after undergoing brain surgery on 3 November to address a blood clot on the brain.
The addresses targeted on Sunday were the doctor’s surgery in Belgrano, an upmarket neighborhood in north Buenos Aires, and his home in Adrogué, to the south of the capital.
The newspaper Clarín said a “cross, fidgety and voluble” Luque addressed reporters on Sunday afternoon after police had left his home following a three-hour search.
“I feel terrible because my friend has died,” the doctor was quoted as saying, before adding: “I’m not one who is responsible for all this”.
“I know what I did with Diego, and I know how I did it. I can explain it all. I’m absolutely certain I did the best that could have been done for Diego,” Luque added, according to the Argentinian news website Infobae.
Luque, who reportedly broke down in tears as he spoke to journalists, said he had been surprised by the decision to search his properties, taking away documents including the footballer’s medical history.
It was reportedly Luque, Maradona’s doctor since 2016, who called emergency services to the player’s home at around noon on Wednesday after Maradona suffered an apparent heart attack.
Luque told Clarín his relationship with the notoriously tempestuous footballer had been like “that of father and a son, a rebellious father”.
The prosecutor’s office provided no information on what prompted the investigation.
Maradona’s lawyer, Matias Moria, on Thursday said he would ask for a full investigation of the circumstances of the footballer’s death, criticizing what he said was a slow response by emergency services.
“The ambulance took more than half an hour to arrive, which was a criminal idiocy,” Matias said on Thursday in a Twitter post.