American Couple Facing Death Penalty in Qatar Released on Bail



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A California couple living in Qatar facing possible execution for
allegedly starving their daughter to death was released on bail today
after almost a year in jail.

Matt and Grace Huang were released on bail, but

the court imposed a travel ban that prevents them from returning to the U.S.

The couple has been imprisoned since January after their 8-year-old
adopted daughter Gloria died, they say, from unknown complications from a
childhood eating disorder. But the Qatari authorities charged them with
forced starvation and intent to murder. The police accuse the Huangs of
trafficking Gloria and her brothers to harvest their organs. 
The Huangs, who are Asian-American, accuse the Qatari authorities of
faulty evidence and cultural ignorance, failing to understand how or why
they would have three children from Africa.
In addition to Gloria, the Huangs have two adopted boys
– one from Ghana, the other from Uganda – forming a bi-racial family
rarely seen in oil-rich Qatar which is void of much diversity (except
for Asian workers who go to work as laborers) and where adoptions are
scarce. 
Matt Huang is a Stanford University-trained engineer who moved his
family to Qatar last year for a two-year job on an infrastructure
project for the 2022 World Cup. Photos posted online show the smiling
family on vacation on horseback and in the ancient Jordanian city of
Petra. 
On Jan. 15, Matt Huang went to check on a sleeping Gloria. He claims he
found her on the floor, foaming at the mouth and barely breathing. He
has said he attempted CPR for 40 minutes, after which Gloria was
pronounced dead. 
Gloria hadn’t shown signs of ill health, but hadn’t eaten for several
days, something she would do several times a year, Huang said. At other
times, she would overeat. The Huangs said she had a cyclical eating
disorder caused by her first four years as a malnourished orphan in
extreme poverty in Ghana. She was adopted with a parasitic infection and
vitamin D deficiency and showed signs of more potential deficiencies to
come. 
The Qatari pathologist said Gloria was emaciated and her death
certificate listed dehydration and cachexia – a rare medical syndrome
where the body doesn’t absorb nutrients properly – as the causes of
death. 
But the prosecution accused the Huangs of starving Gloria, charged them with murder and asked for the death penalty. 


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“Our understanding is that this case is the result of a very small
group of policemen who failed to accurately interpret fact of case due
to deep cultural differences,” family spokesman Eric Volz told ABC News,
adding that they were “perplexed” about the starvation charge since the
prosecution were the first ones to mention it. 
Tissue samples haven’t been given to the defense to examine
independently, but a medical expert hired by the defense argued that
there are half a dozen causes of death ranging from pancreatic cancer to
a diabetic condition that could have led to a seizure. 
“It’s safe to assume her immune system was not at her highest state,” said Volz.
Today was the first time since their January arrest that the Huangs were
able to argue their case. Seven witnesses were called, several of them
expatriate friends from the non-denominational Christian church the
Huangs attended who were at their house the day before Gloria died. 
They testified that she appeared to be in good health, playing with her
brothers and walking up stairs. The defense argued that it’s medically
impossible be walking around one day and to die of starvation the next.
After the morning proceedings, the judge agreed to release the Huangs on
bail but imposed a travel ban that won’t let them leave the country to
join their two sons who are back in the United States being cared for by
family.
“Though we see this as a positive step, their trial is not over,” Grace
Huang’s brother said in a statement. “Until then, our family prays that
the hearts and minds of the judicial leaders will be pointed to the
truth.”
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