With reporting by Riham Sheble
The release of the video comes as the couple struggles to meet legal bills, according to their supporters. It also coincides with Matthew and Grace Huang’s second appearance today in Qatar’s Court of Appeals, where their defense attorney is trying to get their March conviction overturned.
At the same time, the prosecutor is pushing for a longer jail sentence for the couple, who spent 11 months in detention last year before being released on their own recognizance. They remain out of jail for now, but are banned from leaving the country.
Today, the court decided to merge the two defense and prosecutor appeals and hear them together on June 16.
Gloria was adopted from Ghana by the Huangs when she was four years old. The Huangs said because she spent her early years in poverty, the child was fighting an eating disorder that caused her to binge on food and then refuse to eat for several days at a time.
The new six-minute video was posted online by the David House International Crisis Agency, a group that has been working on the Huangs’ case.
It includes footage of Gloria smiling and playing with her two adopted brothers. It also has interviews with the Huangs, and appearances from one of their American lawyers, a doctor and a US State Department spokeswoman. All express concerns about the couple’s conviction, in light of a lack of evidence.
In his judgement, the lead judge on the case in Qatar also cited a lack of proof as the reason for not convicting the Huangs of murder, the prosecutor’s original charge.
Judge Abdullah Al Emadi wrote, as translated into English, that police officers’ testimony that Gloria was locked up in her room and starved to death “is nothing but a presumption not supported by evidence in papers, and is therefore no more than an opinion that may be true or not.”
“In addition, the medical examiner didn’t confirm the victim was starved to death, contrary to what the investigators said… the court concludes that the victim was not denied food.”
However, the judge asserted that he found the Huangs guilty of manslaughter as a result of negligence because Gloria abstained from eating for four days, and her parents had not taken her to a doctor.
Not seeking help exposed Gloria, who was under 16, to danger, even though the couple was tasked with preserving and caring for her, Al Emadi said.
In the video, Matt Huang publicly spoke about the decision not to take Gloria to a doctor for the first time, saying:
“We did not take Gloria to the hospital when she was refusing to eat because we believed she would come out of these hunger strikes as she had done before. She was lively and active and there was no reason to suspect any concern for her health.”
That document, which would be sent to US Secretary of State John Kerry; Mohammed Jaham Al Kuwari, Ambassador of the State of Qatar; and Susan L. Ziadeh, U.S. Ambassador to the State of Qatar, has already garnered some 166,000 signatures.