In a closely watched trial in Qatar and in the United States, Americans Matthew and Grace Huang were found guilty of their adopted daughter’s death and were each sentenced to three years in prison followed by deportation. Last year, the American couple was accused of killing their 8-year-old adopted African daughter by depriving her of sustenance. Mr. Huang had been working in Qatar as a public works infrastructure engineer.
According to the Huangs, the child, whom they had adopted from Ghana, had an eating disorder formed in Africa during her impoverished early childhood. As a result, the girl would sometimes binge eat, fast, or steal food. Friends of the family stated that Gloria, and two sons the couple also adopted from Africa, had seemed healthy and happy while in the Huangs custody.
The Huangs say that there is a possibility that basic misunderstandings in Qatar about multiracial families and adoptions created prejudicial impressions that their daughter, Gloria, had been abused. After nearly a year of incarceration in Qatar, the Huangs have spent the past four months free from custody as the trial progressed. After the verdict, the Huangs were allowed to leave the courtroom and remained free on their own recognizance.
The Huangs have said that they are victims of a gross miscarriage of justice. In a statement read to reporters outside the courtroom, Mr. Huang said, “We have just been wrongfully convicted, and we feel as if we are being kidnapped by the Qatar judicial system. This verdict is wrong and appears to be nothing more than an effort to save face.”
The State Department has expressed disappointment at the verdict. The defendants and their supporters described the ruling as a grievous error that would be appealed. Their legal representatives said that the appeal process would most likely begin in May. The Huangs are planning to seek permission to fly home while the appeal is pending.