With reporting from Amin Isaac
An American couple jailed in Qatar for nearly a year on charges of starving their daughter to death have been released from prison until the trial is over, but will not be allowed to leave the country, a relative has said.
A judge made the decision after Matt and Grace Huang appeared in court today for the fifth time, during which the defense was finally permitted to call its witnesses.
In a statement sent to Doha News, Daniel Chin, the brother of Matt, said:
“Today after the Qatar court heard Matt and Grace’s side of the story for the first time, the presiding judge ordered Matt and Grace to be released on bail, with a travel ban preventing them from returning home to the United States.
Though we see this as a positive step, their trial is not over and we will continue to work within the Qatari legal system to demonstrate their innocence. Until then, our family prays that the hearts and minds of the judicial leaders will be pointed to the truth.”
The Huangs were arrested in January, after their eight-year-old adopted daughter Gloria suddenly died.
The cause of the child’s death remains unknown, but her father did tell police that the child had not eaten in four days. According to the family’s legal counsel, Gloria had been combating an eating disorder that stemmed out of living in extreme poverty in Ghana, and would binge on food and then refuse it for several days.
In the days following Gloria’s death, the Huangs’ two surviving children, who are also adopted, were briefly housed at Dhreima, a government-run orphanage. They then stayed with their grandmother here until last month, when the travel ban against them was lifted after suspicions cleared that the couple was somehow involved in human trafficking.
Movement on the case
During today’s hearing, several friends of the Huangs testified that the couple were good parents to their three children. According to them, certain choices made by the couple, including homeschooling their kids and adopting them from Africa even though the couple is of Asian descent, caused investigators to jump to the wrong conclusions.
Their remarks closely mirror the conclusion reached by the California Innocence Project, a program run by the California Western School of Law that works to clear people who have been charged with crimes they didn’t commit. On a website set up in support of the Huangs, the CIP states:
“The Huangs’ adoption of three black children is suspicious, the Qatari police have claimed, ‘since the main reasons, when buying a child, must be that they are good-looking and well-behaved, or have hereditary features that are similar to those of the parents. But in this case, on the contrary, the children connected to the incident are all from Africa.’ “
US Embassy officials were present at today’s hearing, but declined to comment.
Closing arguments in the case are scheduled for Dec. 3, and the judge is expected to take a few weeks to reach his decision.
your kid doesn’t eat for several days and you dont get them medical attention immediately then you should be jailed
That’s kind of a funny comment since Qatari society would rather do pretty much anything than intervene in private family matters, if we are to go on how they deal with other familial issues of familial/parental/marital abuse.
In any case of abuse especially towards children the authorities should get involved. Nothing funny about that.
Well, there’s a lot of things that SHOULD happen here in Qatar, but that conversation would take a lot longer than either one of us has to devote to it. It has certainly not been my experience in this country that children’s welfare is a big priority from an official standpoint. Sure people here love kids — but they also drive like maniacs, don’t use car seats or make their kids wear seat belts, let them gorge on junk food and not exercise, continue to pass them along in school while many of them are years behind grade level. Many parents routinely hit their children. I have even known young women who were sexually abused by their brothers and fathers..and nobody would intervene to protect them. Seems to me that Qatar is more interested in keeping family matters private and maintaining a rosy facade than in actually aiding children who have been mistreated or victimized.
Child obesity is growing in most countries not just qatar, driving without carseats is an issue but most people don’t know there indagering there kids becuase they think they won’t be in Ann accident in the first place, there giving away free car seats and doctors warn new parents all the time so something is being done, most cases of abuse go unreported in most countries sadly just google it for the UK or US and you will see sadly most of the time nothing is done so this is a world wide problem and not just about qatari society wanting to keep things private no family likes showing the world there dirty lounder anywhere in the world. I remember when I was in cardiff there was a case of parents that killed there own baby, they abused it for years and social workers admitted finding several cigarette burns on the child’s body and did nothing so unfortunately this problem is one that all countries have. In this particular case anyway it’s clear the parents were at fault for not seeking medical attention for a child that didn’t eat for days, simply saying she has an eating disorder so it’s normal no bigee she will just binge later is unacceptable
Sorry to disagree, but I DON’T think it is clear the parents were at fault for not seeking medical attention. Some media reports say friends had seen the girl playing and doing well just 24 hours before she died, and one medical expert testified that the strange eating habits that the child exhibited were not uncommon among children who had grown up in poverty. Given that testimony, and the fact that the prosecution has not produced anything tying the parents to abusive behavior that led to her death, and given the rather ignorant and racist comments made by the police about the family and their entire adoption process, as well as the fact that they isolated and jailed the parents for the better part of a year and prohibited their other two children from leaving the country for nearly as long, it seems to me that the Qatari authorities are the ones who are guilty of egregious misconduct here.
” ignorant and racist comments made by the police about the family and their entire adoption process”
so if the police make racist comments then the accused is innocent, glad to see the logic that got OJ Simpson is alive and well.
“they isolated and jailed the parents for the better part of a year”
this proofs there innocence because?
“the prosecution has not produced anything tying the parents to abusive behavior that led to her death”
try not eating for several days, think about the pain your feeling and imagine a child feeling that. her parents should have taken her to see a nutritionist or a specialist everytime she did that no matter how common it is for children with eating disorders letting them not eat for days on end is a terrible and neglectful thing to do and should be punished if she was doing it every week then she should have been receiving treatment every week with a specialist no good parent would see there child not eat for days shrug and go ehh its not uncommon
Those disgusting comments by the police suggest that their (the cops) motives were based, at least partly, on subjective evidence. For my part I think these are beautiful children, to the extent that it matters at all.
If racist and ignorant comments made by the police meant innocence then 90%of the minorities in the states would be innocent. Qatari police are just too stupid to know that comments they make to the media effect the case.
I’m not quite sure how you made the mental leap that you did. And I think that many of the minoroties you refer to in the US are indeed innocent.
I’m sure many are but to say if the police say something racist then the accused is definitely innocent is a flawed way of thinking
But who said that?
I stand corrected, your earlier comment only Suddgested that you meant that and I misunderstood it, I apologise
I think it is telling to note that they were not released on bail (after being held for nearly a year, isolated from one another, in prison here) until the day AFTER the NYT ran a lengthy article on the couple’s plight. I guess negative international press and publicity have a way of ‘motivating’ authorities here to behave more in line with international parameters of fair play and justice.
It tells our legal system is slow as hell and need a kick in the behind to get things moving, we know that already
thank you for answering, seems Mohammed does not get it
when you adopt you don’t by children at the supermarket and choose according to the color of their eyes and hair! You don’t buy children; you adopt a child, which means a lot of money yes, but because you’re ready to accept a non-blood related child into your family and love that child like the ones you have delivered or would have delivered.
It is an act of love that any primitive would not understand.
A total lack of respect for those who adopt!
Yeah I knoww wts your point?
Surprisingly in all your lengthy comments not a
single word of condolence for the little girl that died in vain because of the
negligence of the defendants!!!
Sounds like you have already convicted the parents as guilty. Isn’t that the purpose of the investigation and trial? The media reports are partial glimpses at best. Better to reserve judgement until all facts are known.
The evidence is all already in. Closing arguments are next.
I sympathize for this family because of the pain of losing their daughter/sister/grandchild, and I feel badly that their sorrow has been compounded by the incompetent legal system here in Qatar.
And inshallah her death will not be in vain; maybe it will help authorities here learn that people actually CAN love and adopt children of other races who do not look like them, and that these families aren’t deviously planning to kill them and sell their internal organs on the black market.
The defendants should
have not came to Qatar in the first place, they should have researched that both adoption & home schooling is violation
of local laws.
Are you mad, or just vindictive? Perhaps the families of the Villagio tragedy should not have come to Qatar as getting justice and expecting safety rules to be adhered seems to be a “violation of local laws”
Bringing the Villagio tragedy into this argument, is distasteful
Saying they shouldn’t have come to Qatar as adoption and home schooling is illegal in Qatar, is distasteful & unrelated..
I’m just stating the facts…
Adoption is forbidden in Islam & unlawful not only in Qatar, but the entire region. Homeschooling is only allowed through permission of SEC
Well they didn’t adopt the children here, nor is the family Muslim. They’re devout Christians, and whether their children were naturally conceived, or whether they came from IVF or a test tube or a surrogate or adoption, legally they ARE their children, the same as any biological ones would be, in the eyes of the law.
And who is to say that they did not have permission to home school?
I believe the coroner also verified that she did not die of starvation in itself but of problems related to the disorder she had. She was under medical supervision and being looked after. With starve and gorge disorders like this the heart is put under enormous strain. The issue the parents and doctors also had to address was the psychological trauma this child had undergone in her home country. It was not as simple as offering her a healthy diet and she would get better.
My thoughts go out to the Huangs . Their friends who have been supporting them in prison have said they have been stoic and positive throughout all this and have borne this tragedy and their imprisonment with incredible dignity.
Sorry for all the spelling errors, using my phone to comment 🙂
Mohammed she had a documented eating disorder, meaning that she was already receiving some form of treatment -she would not eat, and then gorge. Eating disorders take time to address. And it’s not clear that she died from starvation.
or it means she went to a hospital one time, the degree of treatment she was getting is unclear but from media reports it appears that it wasnt enough, she should have been seeing a specialist regularly anything less is neglectful
About time they were released. They shouldn’t have been jailed this long pending trial in the first place.
I understand the need for an investigation in such cases, but if they are proven innocent, this long wait will have been a travesty for this family (especially their two other children). This is the classic case for the need for speedier trials in Qatar.
Why keep them in jail pre-trial, if a travel ban is in place. They cannot go anywhere anyway.
you’re innocent until proven guilty.
Here is reversed: you’re guilty until innocence is proven….weird!
If someone I knew have not eaten anything for 2 days or more I will be very, very concerned, even if their from Africa.
Even if they’re from Africa? I hope that doesn’t mean what it appears to mean.
another proof of ignorance at 360 degres, with horrid statements as: ” when buying a child, must be that they are good-looking and
well-behaved, or have hereditary features that are similar to those of
Will someone pay to this couple for the tort suffered of being jailed away from the other 2 children and in pain for the death of the third one?