US couple facing Qatar murder charge in new legal battle

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A US couple facing the death penalty over accusations that they murdered their eight-year old adopted daughter in Qatar are now facing a bitter legal dispute with one of their employers.

Prosecutors in the Gulf state claim that Grace and Matthew Huang starved Gloria, originally from Ghana, to death last January, six months after the family moved to Qatar. The couple claim that the girl suffered from an eating disorder resulting from her poverty-stricken upbringing.

Prosecutors, who are calling for the death sentence, say that the Huangs wanted to sell Gloria’s organs or “conduct medical experiences on them”. Defence lawyers for the family say that evidence against them ranges from being extremely flawed to nonexistent and that the trial has been prejudiced by local misunderstandings about adoption and multi-racial families.

A Qatari judge last month postponed proceedings in the trial until February 5, with the Huangs now apparently under virtual house arrest.

According to The New York Times this week, Matthew Huang has now entered into a bitter legal dispute with his employer, US engineering firm MWH Global.

The newspaper reports that the firm request Huang return to work following his release, or forfeit pay and benefits. In his resignation letter, Huang says that the demand amounts to forced dismissal.

The Huangs are said to have so far spent around $1m in legal fees associated with their case.

“You might think that being released from prison provided relief, but we are still under tremendous stress and are in grave danger,” Huang’s letter reportedly reads. “After everything we have been through and given our current status as prisoners, I think it is clear that my returning to work is not OK.” Huang says that the request is all the more unreasonable, as the January 16 date he was required to return to work by is the anniversary of the death of his daughter.

The Huang’s two adopted sons were initially taken into care by Qatari authorities, but have now returned to the US with Grace Huang’s mother, which The New York Times says indicates that the prosecutor’s case may be coming apart.

MWH Global told the newspaper that it had made every effort to contact Huang, but had been obstructed by legal advisors. Grace Huang’s brother, Daniel Chin, argues that Matthew Huang has effectively been abandoned and left to fight Qatar’s Islamic courts system by himself.

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