Maradona Could Be Called to Testify in Drug Scandal

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Diego Maradona may be questioned by a judge investigating charges that the soccer star’s manager, Guillermo Coppola, is part of an international drug-trafficking ring.

Federal Judge Hernan Bernasconi told reporters Tuesday that Coppola, arrested two weeks ago, said he and Maradona were in his Buenos Aires luxury apartment with three women shortly before police raided the home and found one pound of cocaine in a flower pot.

Bernasconi said Tuesday it was probable that Maradona, who has publicly admitted a chronic cocaine addiction, would now be questioned in the case.

If convicted of drug dealing, Coppola could face up to 10 years in jail.

In separate raids this month, Bernasconi has also ordered the arrest of Maradona’s brother-in-law, Gabriel Esposito, and former soccer player Alberto Tarantini because of suspected links with the same drug ring.

Coppola acknowledges he is a cocaine user but has said the drugs seized by police were planted in an attempt to frame him.

His arrest has also caused embarrassment for the government since the 49-year-old soccer agent is a close friend of President Carlos Menem’s personal secretary Ramon Hernandez.

Police say the drugs allegedly peddled by Coppola were sold mainly along Argentina’s Atlantic Coast last summer, where Maradona was simultaneously heading a government-sponsored anti-drug campaign.

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