Leopoldo Luque is being probed over medical negligence and police are treating the footballer’s death as a possible culpable homicide.
But in his first media interview since police raided his home earlier today, the doctor has said ‘someone is trying to find a scapegoat’ where there isn’t one.
Police raided the home of the personal physician Luque on Sunday and investigators are looking into all the medical staff involved with his care.
Diego Maradona’s death is being treated as possible manslaughter and police have raided the home of his personal doctor Leopoldo Luque (pictured together)
Maradona died of ‘acute lung edema and chronic heart failure’, according to a preliminary autopsy report. He died in his sleep at noon while resting at his home in Tigre, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday. Pictured, Maradona’s coffin
Neurologist Leopoldo Luque, Diego Maradona’s former personal doctor, talks with journalists at his home in Buenos Aires today after police raided his home as part of ongoing investigation
Luque was at his home while the search on the outskirts of Buenos Aires took place, while Argentinian TV stations have been broadcasting live images of police entering his clinic.
The searches were ordered after Maradona’s daughters Dalma and Giannina gave statements yesterday and questioned whether the medication their father was receiving was appropriate.
Argentinian media are reporting Luque could be questioned as an ‘imputado’, someone who is under official investigation on suspicion of possible mala praxis or negligence.
The physician mounted an emotional defence of his treatment of the soccer legend after the police search of his home.
Luque broke down in tears as he insisted he had done everything possible to assist the retired footballer in his first interview since investigators launched their shock operation to try to establish whether Maradona had been the victim of medical negligence.
Tears rolled down his cheeks as he insisted in a hastily-arranged press conference at his home near Buenos Aires which lasted nearly 40 minutes a ‘friend’ had died and Diego was his own worst enemy when it came to accepting help from professionals.
Police stand guard the entrance of Dr. Leopoldo Luque’s practice in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Leopoldo Luque, Maradona’s former personal doctor, leaves Olivos Clinic where late soccer star remained hospitalized after undergoing an operation in Buenos Aires earlier this month
He said: ‘I was shocked when police turned up at my door. I’m going to co-operate fully.
‘I know what I did and what I did was for Diego’s benefit until the last moment. I did the best I could.
‘I feel terrible because a friend died. I don’t blame myself for anything. It’s very unfair what’s happening.
‘I didn’t see Diego’s daughters a lot but the rest of his family, his siblings and his nephews adore me.
‘Someone is trying to find a scapegoat here when I don’t see one anywhere.
‘We all did the best we could with Diego.’
Insisting Diego had a problem with pills and alcohol, he added: ‘He punished himself in a way I wasn’t going to allow, not as a doctor but as a friend.
Leopoldo Luque speaks with journalists at a press conference outside the clinic where he underwent brain surgery for a blood clot, in Olivos, Buenos Aires province, earlier this month
‘I don’t see good and bad people in all this. We all did what we could. But Diego was the most difficult one of them.
‘You couldn’t do anything if Diego didn’t want it. He hated doctors and psychologists. With me it was different because I was honest with him. He was my friend.
‘He should have gone to a centre of rehabilitation when he left hospital but he didn’t want to.
‘If I’m responsible for anything when it comes to Diego, it was loving him and improving his life.’
Maradona’s lawyer Matias Morla last week demanded a top-level probe into the emergency response to the retired footballer’s death.
Morla said the first ambulance took more than half an hour to reach the rented house north of Buenos Aires where the former Naples and Barcelona star suffered heart failure.
He called the delay a ‘criminal idiocy’ and complained Maradona had not received any medical checks in the 12 hours before he died.
It later emerged the first ambulance took 11 minutes to reach the private San Andres gated estate near Buenos Aires Maradona moved to after leaving hospital on November 11 following his brain blood clot operation.
On Saturday it emerged Maradona’s nurse had admitted she lied about an early-morning check-up.
Initial reports pointed to a 24-year-old nephew who was staying with him at the San Andres home being the last person to see him alive over breakfast the day Diego died.
Maradona was one of the most gifted sportsmen of all time, almost single-handedly inspiring Argentina to win the World Cup in Mexico in 1986
Maradona was said to have told his relative ‘I’m not feeling well’ before going back to bed and dying in his sleep before investigators were told he had never got up on Wednesday to eat anything.
Diego’s nephew told investigators he last saw him when he went to bed around 11pm on Tuesday. An uneaten late-night sandwich snack was among the items found in his room by police.
A night-shift nurse told investigators he had seen Maradona ‘sleeping and breathing normally in bed’ around 6.30am on Wednesday.
A report in the hands of state prosecutors heading a probe into the retired footballer’s death, leaked to Argentinian media and signed by a nurse named locally as Dahiana Gisela Madrid who took over around the same time, states: ‘At 6.30am I started my shift and the patient was resting.
Maradona (C) is kissed by his daughters Giannina (L) and Dalma as he arrives to attend the screening of Serbian director Emir Kusturica’s documentary film ‘Maradona by Kusturica’ at the 61st Cannes International Film Festival in Cannes in 2008
‘At 7.30am he is heard moving around inside his room. At 8.30am he continues to rest. At 9.20am he refuses to have his vital signs monitored.’
The health report for private medical firm Medidom is now at the centre of an ongoing probe after the nurse reportedly told investigators she had never entered Diego’s bedroom the morning of his death to check up on him.
Local news agency Telam, citing judicial sources in a report widely echoed in the Argentinian press, said the nurse had claimed in her second statement under oath that she had been ‘made to lie’ for the Medidom report.
‘What the witness added in that second statement is that she was made to write in a report for Medidom, where she is part of the nursing team assisting people receiving home medical care, that she had tried to monitor Maradona’s vital signs when the reality is that she let him rest,’ the report said.
It was not made crystal clear if she was claiming her bosses had obliged her to file the ‘false’ report amid concerns they would be accused of negligence over Maradona’s death, or her hand had been forced by others.
Psychiatrist Susana Cosachov and psychologist Carlos Diaz, who formed part of Maradona’s care team, are said to have entered the room just before midday and made several unsuccessful attempts to revive him before calling 999.
Maradona handles the ball past Peter Shilton to open the scoring in Argentina’s 1986 World Cup quarter-final against England
A recording of the call Maradona’s personal physician Leopoldo Luque made to the emergency services, stating he had suffered a suspected cardiac arrest, has been leaked to Argentinian media.
The former Naples and Barcelona star, who was just 60, was declared dead around midday on Wednesday. Initial post-mortem results revealed the recovering cocaine addict, who also had alcohol problems, had suffered heart failure which caused pulmonary edema.
Medics are also said to have detected dilated cardiomyopathy, a medical condition in which the heart muscle becomes weakened and enlarged and cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
Pulmonary edema, fluid accumulation in the lung’s tissue and air spaces, is caused by heart problems in most cases.
State prosecutors are analysing CCTV footage of the cameras on the estate where Diego was living and the mobile phones of the nurses who were looking after him in the hours leading up to his death.
Leopoldo Luque was not at the rented home Maradona was using when he died.
A judicial source told respected Argentinian newspaper La Nacion: ‘As Luque was Maradona’s personal physician the decision was taken to search his house and surgery to look for documents that could determine whether, during Maradona’s treatment at home, there were any irregularities.’
Investigators are believed to be searching for details of the medicine being administered to Maradona as well as his health records and other documents that could play a key role in the investigation.
Thirty police and judicial officials are said to be at Luque’s home and another at his work address.