Investigators seized medical records, cellphones and computers from the Buenos Aires home and office of Diego Maradona’s personal doctor as part of an investigation into the soccer legend’s sudden death last week, authorities said Sunday.
Prosecutors in San Isidro, Buenos Aires province, said they concluded the searches were “necessary” after interviewing Maradona’s relatives.
[Diego Maradona became a global celebrity as a soccer player. But the world remembers him as more.]
The 60-year-old former Barcelona and Naples star died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack at his home. He had undergone emergency brain surgery earlier this month.
Neurosurgeon Leopoldo Luque, speaking to reporters at his home on Sunday, said police took clinical files related to Maradona. He denied any responsibility for his death.
“If I am responsible of something, it is of loving him and taking care of him, extending his life and improving it until the end,” Luque said. “I am not responsible for this.”
John Broyad, the prosecutor in charge of the case, said Thursday the initial evidence showed no signs of violence and indicated natural causes. News of the investigation Sunday shocked fans rocked by the unexpected death of their idol.
Maradona’s rise from extreme poverty on the outskirts of Buenos Aires to a World Cup championship in 1986 made him a hero to Argentines and soccer fans everywhere. In 2000, he was named, with Pelé, co-winner of the FIFA Player of the Century award.
[Diego Maradona, mesmerizing soccer star and Argentine legend, dies at 60]
His death brought a global outpouring of grief. Tributes to his talents flooded the Internet; soccer and rugby teams from Europe to New Zealand honored the sporting legend before their weekend matches.
The loss brought Argentina to a standstill. President Alberto Fernández announced three days of national mourning. Tens of thousands of tearful supporters filed past Maradona’s coffin last week as his body lay in state in the presidential palace.
“You took us to the top of the world,” Fernández said. “You made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of all.”
The soccer star’s career and life was exactly as he was: Jagged and imperfect. Alongside the soaring free kicks, unbeatable dribbling and lethal left foot, he struggled with addiction to alcohol and cocaine, paternity suits and accusations of domestic violence, charges he denied.
[Diego Maradona was brilliant. And flawed. And fearless. And complex. And spectacular.]
He had a history of health problems, including an emergency room visit with a heart ailment in 2000, a heart attack in 2004 and multiple surgeries. After his playing career, his weight rose from 150 lbs. to nearly 300.
He underwent surgery last year to address bleeding in his stomach caused by a hernia.
Three days after celebrating his 60th birthday this month, he was admitted to a clinic in La Plata with anemia and dehydration. The next day, he underwent emergency brain surgery for possible bleeding on his brain linked to a subdural hematoma, or blood clot on his brain.
A tearful Luque described Maradona Sunday as a difficult patient who often fought with the medical staff. “Diego needed help,” he said. “Diego was hard. Diego kicked me out of his house and then called me again. That was the relationship, the one of a rebellious father with a son.”
Maradona’s death prompted not only grief, but also calls for answers. His lawyer Matías Morla urged an investigation on Thursday, alleging the health workers caring for the soccer star were neglectful.
“It is inexplicable that for 12 hours my friend has not had attention or control from the health personnel,” Morla wrote on social media. “The ambulance took more than half an hour to arrive, which was a criminal idiocy.”
Prosecutors contend it took 12 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.
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