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An American couple has been jailed in Qatar for allegedly starving their daughter.
Matthew and Grace Huang are a California couple who moved to Qatar with their children for Matthew’s engineering job, which involved improving the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup, according to The New York Daily News.
While the couple was in Qatar, their 8-year-old daughter, Gloria, passed away from what the medical examiner called ‘wasting disease.’
Following Gloria’s death, her parents were arrested on the suspicion of deliberately starving their daughter to death and intending to harvest her organs, according to The Blaze.
The Huangs adopted Gloria from Ghana in 2009 at 4 years old. She had a parasitic infection at the time, which caused her to have a low body weight, according to The California Innocence Project. Gloria was malnourished in early childhood and her parents stated that she would often refuse food for several days, then go on severe eating binges by getting food from anywhere.
She was noted for procuring food that she may have received from a stranger, or pulled from a garbage can. She also attempted to leave the house in search of food, according to a report by Janice Ophoven, a pediatric forensic pathologist who reviewed the case for the family.
At the time of her death, the young girl may not have eaten in as many as four days.
Despite not having any true evidence against the Huangs, the Qatari government believes there must be an illegal, ulterior motive for the Huangs, who are Asian American, to have adopted three black African children.
The California Innocence Project reports that the Qatari police found the family ‘inherently suspicious’ and police reports repeatedly suggested “that Matthew and Grace could not have had a legitimate reason to adopt children who were not ‘good-looking’ and who did not share their ‘hereditary traits.’”
From that logic, police investigators came to the conclusion that the couple “bought” their children with the intention to either harvest their organs or perform medical experiments on them.
The parents are in shock over their conviction and have called on President Obama to intervene.
According to NY Daily News, Matthew Huang said, “We just don’t believe that we have been convicted. This verdict should be overturned immediately and we should be allowed to go home. We feel that we have been kidnapped by the Qatari justice system.”
The couple’s attorney, Sami Abu Sheikha, said that the judge did not tell the Huangs what they are guilty of and that they will be appealing the case.
The couple has been sentenced to three years in prison and each has been fined $4,100.