The US has asked Qatar to help speed up the appeals process for an American couple sentenced to jail time here following the death of their eight-year-old adopted daughter.
The statement said:
“We seek the Qatari Government’s assistance in providing a fair and expeditious conclusion to the proceedings. We also urge the Qatari Government to lift the current travel ban and allow Mr. and Mrs. Huang to return home to the United States to be reunited with their two sons and the rest of their family.”
US officials have expressed concerns about the judicial process surrounding the Huangs case before, and this latest message comes after recent meetings between the couple’s supporters and senior US officials.
According to the New York Times:
“The statement on Thursday was the first time that the United States had publicly asked for the Qatar government’s help in both resolving the issue and permitting the Huangs to leave.”
In the past year, Qatar and the US have been forging increasingly close political and economic ties, a relationship that the western nation may be hoping to leverage to help out the Huangs.
The couple’s daughter Gloria died in January 2013. Police became suspicious when Matt Huang took his unconscious daughter to the hospital. According to records, they suspected him of organ trafficking because he was Asian American and she was African.
The night Gloria died, her father also told doctors that she had not eaten in four days. The next day, the Huangs were arrested and jailed, but released 11 months later on their own recognizance after friends testified about the couple’s loving relationship with Gloria and their other two adopted children.
An in-depth autopsy to determine the cause of Gloria’s death was never apparently conducted, and the couple’s defense attorney argued that the child had refused food in the days leading up to her death because she had been battling an eating disorder after growing up impoverished in Ghana.
After weighing the evidence, a judge in a lower criminal court decided to convict the Huangs of a lesser charge of parental neglect, sentencing them to three years in jail.
The Huangs remain out of custody pending the appeals trial, which commenced a few months ago but has been postponed until October.
However, they have not been allowed to leave the country since Gloria died.
During this process, the defense attorney for the Huangs has been seeking an exoneration of his clients, while the prosecutor is appealing for a harsher verdict.