US couple accused of starving to death daughter get bail

Case of starvation is ‘medically impossible’, Doha court told during trial of 8 year-old Gloria Huang’s parents
By Courtney Trenwith
Thu 07 Nov 2013 10:32 AM

An American couple accused of starving to death their adopted daughter in Qatar has been bailed after almost a year in jail, according to Associated Press.

Matthew and Grace Huang were arrested shortly after Gloria, 8, died in Doha on January 15.

Gloria is one of three African children adopted by the Huangs, who are of Asian descent but grew up in California.

A Qatari pathologist said she was emaciated when she died and her death certificate lists dehydration and cachexia - a rare medical syndrome where the body doesn't absorb nutrients properly - as the causes of death.

The Huangs admit Gloria had not eaten for up to four days before her death, however, they said her refusal to eat was based on a childhood eating disorder related to trauma she experienced in her native Ghana, where she lived until she was adopted – a rare concept in Qatar - aged four.

During a court appearance on Wednesday the couple were granted their first opportunity to defend the case, AP reported.

Mr Huang said he found Gloria on the floor, foaming at the mouth and barely breathing.

Seven defence witnesses, including expatriate friends who visited the Huangs’ house the day before Gloria died, told the court she appeared to be in good health and was playing with her brothers and walking up stairs.

The defence lawyer argued that it was medically impossible to walk around one day and die of starvation the next.

The couple was granted bail at the end of the proceedings but are banned from travelling to the United States, where their two sons are living with their grandmother.

"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."

The couple moved to Doha in 2012 when Mr Huang worked as a supervising engineer on a water purification and recycling project related to Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup.

Their case has been taken up by the US-based California Innocence Project (CIP) which has launched a public appeal to generate publicity for their case.

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