Eight medical personnel in Argentina have been ordered to stand trial for alleged criminal negligence in the death of football legend Diego Maradona, according to a court ruling made public Wednesday.
No date has been set for the trial of the eight over Maradona's death in 2020, which prosecutors say was due to "omissions" by his caregivers who abandoned him "to his fate" during home hospitalisation.
Maradona, Argentina’s greatest and most famous footballer, died aged 60 on November 25, 2020, while recovering from brain surgery for a blood clot.
‘El Diez' – who for decades had struggled with cocaine and alcohol addictions – was found dead in bed two weeks after going under the knife, in a rented house in a private neighbourhood of San Andrés, to where he was brought after being discharged from hospital.
He was found to have died of a heart attack.
A panel of 20 medical experts convened by Argentina's public prosecutor concluded last year that Maradona's treatment was rife with "deficiencies and irregularities."
It said the footballer "would have had a better chance of survival" with adequate treatment in an appropriate medical facility.
The experts found his caregivers had abandoned the retired footballer and coach to his fate for a "prolonged, agonising period" leading up to his death.
Charged in the case are neurosurgeon and family doctor Leopoldo Luque, psychiatrist Agustina Cosachov, nursing coordinator Mariano Perroni, nurses Ricardo Almirón and Gisella Madrid, psychologist Carlos Díaz, medical coordinator Nancy Forlini and clinician Pedro Pablo Di Spagna.
Prosecutors had asked that they be tried for negligent homicide and on Wednesday, San Isidro Judge Orlando Díaz approved the request. The accused could face prison sentences ranging from eight to 25 years in prison.
According to the prosecutors, the defendants "were the protagonists of an unprecedented, totally deficient and reckless hospitalisation at home" and were allegedly responsible for a "series of improvisations, management failures and shortcomings."
"There is an accumulation of criminally relevant conduct that led to Maradona's sad demise," said the prosecutors, who allege the team knew of Maradona's possible death and did nothing to prevent it.
In his ruling, Judge Diaz questioned "the conduct that each of the defendants displayed,” and said that they had “not complied with the mandate of good medical practice.”
Díaz’s decision can still be appealed, which is likely to delay any trial until at least 2023.
An investigation was opened following a complaint filed by two of Maradona's five children against Luque, whom they blame for their father's deterioration after the operation.
More than 80 witnesses have already testified during the probe and it is expected that they will testify again in court.
Maradona is widely considered one of the greatest footballers in history. The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star suffered from liver, kidney and cardiovascular disorders when he died.
He became an idol to millions of Argentines after he inspired the Albiceleste to only their second World Cup triumph in 1986.
The court ruling ordering the composition of a trial bench came as Argentina celebrated its Day of the Footballer commemorating Maradona's performance in the 1986 quarter final against England -- when he scored the infamous "hand of God" goal and then the "Goal of the Century" as voted in a FIFA poll.
His death shocked fans around the world, and tens of thousands queued to file past his coffin, which was draped in the Argentine flag, at the Casa Rosada palace in Buenos Aires during three days of national mourning.