By Courtney Trenwith
Human trafficking charges could be revised during appeal case of allegations adopted 8yo girl was to be used for organs
An American couple appealing their jail sentence in Qatar for causing their adopted daughter to starve to death, could also face human trafficking charges, as the prosecutor said the pair needed to be made an example of, it was reported.
Matthew and Grace Huang were last month sentenced to three years’ in jail after eight-year-old Gloria, who was adopted from Ghana, died in January, 2013.
An autopsy found she had died of "cachexia (an irreversible loss of body mass) and dehydration", while the prosecutor charged the couple with "murder with intent by forced starvation".
The couple argued Gloria suffered an eating disorder related to her trauma while living in a refugee camp in Africa and that the Qatari authorities had failed to acknowledge this. Witnesses testified that Gloria was smiling and walking before she died.
Supporters also argue Qatari authorities have wrongly accused the Huangs based on their cultural lack of acceptance of adoption, which is not common in Gulf states, and racism – the Huangs are from Chinese descent but grew up in America.
The couple, whose other adopted children have been allowed to return to the US, are on bail while their appeal, which began on Monday, is being heard.
The couple has not been allowed an interpreter during the appeal, according to Doha News.
During the opening session, the prosecutor said the pair needed to be made an example of and should not be on bail during the appeal.
He also revealed he was considering reviving human trafficking charges, based on the court’s conclusion "that the murder may have been done in order to harvest her organs or to conduct medical experiments on her".
The case has raised concern in the US, including in Washington and among rights activists.
Following the initial verdict, the US State Department said Washington was concerned by "indications that not all of the evidence was being weighed by the court and that cultural misunderstandings may have been leading to an unfair trial".
The couple spent nearly a year in prison before being released but are not allowed to leave Qatar.
They had moved to the Gulf state in 2012 when Matthew Huang, an engineer, took a job overseeing a major infrastructure project related to Qatar’s World Cup in 2022.