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Monday, May 17, 2021

Qatar appeal court overturns child endangerment conviction for Huangs

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Matt and Grace Huang after this morning's appeal verdict.
Matt and Grace Huang after this morning\’s appeal verdict.

An American couple in Qatar who were facing three years in jail after the death of their daughter have won their freedom, after a local appeals court threw out a lower court verdict this morning.

The judge who issued the decision said there was “no evidence that they put the interests of the girl in harm’s way.” He added, “the defense offered plenty of proof that they are not guilty.”

Matt and Grace Huang were sentenced to jail time by a criminal court in March, after being found guilty of child endangerment. They were allowed to remain out of prison until the appellate process was finished.

In addition to clearing the previous conviction, the judge also rejected an appeal by prosecutors to convict the couple on first-degree murder charges.

The couple was arrested shortly after their daughter Gloria died suddenly in January 2013 and faced murder charges. But a judge ordered them released nearly a year later pending the court verdict in that trial.

Grace Huang with her three children.
Grace Huang with her three children.

Gloria had not eaten in the four days leading up to her death, according to her parents.

The defense maintained that the child, who was adopted from Ghana, had an eating disorder that caused her to binge on food and then refuse it for long amounts of time.

Additionally, defense lawyers previously challenged the Qatar-based forensic examiner’s report.

A US pathologist who examined Gloria’s body when it was returned home said he found no evidence that tissue samples had been removed from her brain or major organs in Qatar, meaning no analysis could have actually been performed.

The judge referred to the US doctor’s report as factoring into his decision, and mentioned that were contradictions and discrepancies in the testimony of the forensic examiner, his initial report as well as Gloria’s death certificate.

Based on what he heard, the judge determined that there was no conclusive evidence that determined how Gloria died.

He also explained after delivering the verdict that another factor he weighed heavily was testimony during the first trial of witnesses who saw Gloria playing at her house approximately 24 hours before her death as evidence that the Huangs provided extreme care – as well as food, education and recreation opportunities – to their children.

Finally, he pointed to a statement cited in part by the prosecutor from one of Gloria’s brothers, Emmanuel, that his sister was not deprived of food or water, but needed her parents’ permission to eat.

The judge summarized that the defendants offered plenty of proof of their innocence as well as evidence that they are caring parents.

Matthew Huang spoke briefly to reporters outside court and read a prepared statement:

“This has been emotional trial for me and my family. Grace and I want to go home and be reunited with our sons. We have been unable to grieve our daughter’s death. But we want to thank the judge for today’s decision.”

US pressure

For the past several months, the Huangs have been seeking a dismissal of this case, while the prosecutor pushed for the couple to be given a harsher sentence during the appeal.

The US has also been putting diplomatic pressure on Qatar to lift the travel ban the couple has been under for nearly the past two years.

Ahead of the couple’s last court date in October, the US State Department issued a statement saying the Huangs should be allowed to leave Doha to reunite with their two sons, who are staying with family in the states.

Outside the courtroom today, Grace Huang was asked by reporters what she was looking forward to the most about going home. She said “seeing our kids, seeing our sons.”

The couple may be able to leave Qatar as early as today, according to Eric Volz, managing director of David House Agency, which is handling the couple’s public relations.

Thoughts?

44 COMMENTS

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Silvertop
Silvertop
6 years ago

Matt went to Qatar as an engineer to work on Olympic structure with his family. While we celebrate their release, it is still sad to think that they had been in jail and had to fight for freedom.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

Justice prevails. No autopsy performed equals no determination of causation of death. Without causation being established by a suitably qualified pathologist then a modern justice system can not convict on murder or manslaughter. The next question is, will the so called Qatar based pathologist be investigated and charged with perjury, producing false evidence etc?

Expat
Expat
6 years ago

Finally a positive story! Justice is served,congratulations to the Huangs and may they board the first flight out of here in peace!

Abdulrahaman
Abdulrahaman
6 years ago

Very disappointing! They should have been charged for negligence. Home schooling a child with an eating disorder in a forigen land with no medical supervision is negligince no matter how much “white expats” likes to sugarcoat it…

Gareth Walters
Gareth Walters
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahaman

But an Arab Judge said there was no evidence?!?!?!

SokhnaFan2010
SokhnaFan2010
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahaman

“The judge referred to the US doctor’s report as factoring into his decision, and mentioned that were was contradictions and discrepancy in the Qatar autopsy document.

He also explained after delivering the verdict that another factor he weighed heavily was witness testimony during the first trial of friends who saw Gloria playing around 24 hours before her death.”

The verdict has been made, judged by the law of the land. Live with it like everyone else, no matter what their color.

sicti
sicti
6 years ago
Reply to  SokhnaFan2010

So basically they stayed one year in jail because a medical examiner wrote a report, stating as cause of death negligence or whatsoever, without actually performing the autopsy, lying. Correct?

SokhnaFan2010
SokhnaFan2010
6 years ago
Reply to  sicti

I refer the honorable gentleman to my response above.

Frank Johnson
Frank Johnson
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahaman

Very disappointing that you would wish two innocent people to be in jail because of your prejudices.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahaman

If you look back at previous reporting on this case, you will see that despite claims made by the prosecution, no proper post mortem was carried out. In other words, the forensic report was based on a lie – no examination was ever carried out.

Had the pathologist in Qatar actually done his work, and actually carried out the required tests, and actually determined the cause of death, the outcome today may have been different. Instead, the judge had no choice but to overturn the verdict because someone was too lazy or incompetent or dishonest to actually do his job.

To quote earlier Doha News reporting:

***

In accusing the Huangs of fatally starving their daughter, the prosecutor implied that the pathology report proved Gloria had no diseases or other conditions that may have caused or contributed to her death, according to the couple’s supporters.

However, in documents sent to the attorney general this week and shared with Doha News, the Huangs’ legal team suggest the report was fabricated.

Specifically, they said a second examination of Gloria’s body, conducted in the US by pathologist Dr. Harry Bonnell, found no evidence that tissue samples had been removed from her brain or major organs in Qatar, meaning no analysis could have actually been performed:

“The post-mortem examination was totally inadequate by western standards. As a result, there are innumerable possible causes of death that were not ruled out,” Bonnell wrote, giving examples of diabetes, cardiac illness and a range of potentially fatal infections.

***

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago

This is not justice, this is an example of politics freeing the guilty

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

Not totally wrong. I would have expected another autopsy by more than one doctor to clear the doubts, rather than taking what the American doctor said for granted and discarding the results of the first autopsy.

Parwaiz Win
Parwaiz Win
6 years ago

On what grounds are they guilty ? Because the child is African and the police officer could not reason with the fact that they adopted a child of a different race and background ?

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  Parwaiz Win

They are guilty of neglect because they had a child with an eating disorder who would not eat for several days then binge eat often out of the garbage according to them. A practice the child did so often that they said she became ‘addicted” to it and. There solution to this problem was to lock her in her room. Is that not neglect?

Parwaiz Win
Parwaiz Win
6 years ago

And your point being ? To allow the child to continue eating out of the garbage ? What they did is not neglect but a decisive action to stop the child from continuing her habit. There is not one evidence to say they mistreated the child in any way. The child’s death was not premeditated and no one could have predicted it. It was a unfortunate and untimely death but to falsely accuse the Huangs by conjuring a fabricated medical report and racist assumptions is already grounds for an acquittal.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Parwaiz Win

Locking a troubled child overnight in their room as to avoid them from eating is normal ?

Parwaiz Win
Parwaiz Win
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Not avoid her from eating but eating from the garbage.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Parwaiz Win

As opposed to bloody throwing garbage out or locking the kitchen door !!!!!!!!!

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  Parwaiz Win

“To allow the child to continue eating out of the garbage ”

i believe taking her to see a mental health professional would be better than locking a child who is so hungry that she eats out of the garbage in a room with no food… just sayin

“What they did is not neglect but a decisive action to stop the child from continuing her habit”

if you dont think not giving a child obviously in need of medical and psychological help the care she obviously needs, but instead looking her up isnt neglect then i really feel bad for your children if you have any

“. It was a unfortunate and untimely death but to falsely accuse the Huangs by conjuring a fabricated medical report and racist assumptions is already grounds for an acquittal.”

A) your confusing fabricated with crappy, qatar gains nothing from arresting these guys hence no need to fabricate.
B) for the reasons you stated they were not found guilty of manslaughter or murder. what they did however was unquestionably neglect which is what they were found guilty of

KJD
KJD
6 years ago
Reply to  Parwaiz Win

I think it would have been more appropriate for them to lock the garbage up at night so the child could not get at it rather than locking the child up.

Lui Yu Ma
Lui Yu Ma
6 years ago

It is God’s grace for Qatar’s judge ruled justly for the couple’s immediate release because they are innocent.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  Lui Yu Ma

Sure they are buddy. Sure they are

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago

Wouldn’t be funny if they get stopped at Hamad International for unpaid traffic fines…

Guess it’s ok to lock special needs kids on their own in their rooms overnight

Frank Johnson
Frank Johnson
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

There seems to be a lot of people on here who know exactly what happened. They certainly know more than a judge who has reviewed all of the evidence. We should always ask these omnipotent demi-gods for their opinions on all cases…there would be no point to having a trial at all!

SokhnaFan2010
SokhnaFan2010
6 years ago
Reply to  Frank Johnson

Everyone has an opinion Frank, the good news is that only the Judge’s one counts, at least he has been presented the full facts.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Frank Johnson

Lol what is this praise for the Qatari justice system and the judges !!! No you sir surely must still be hung over from yestarday’s brunch …

What’s if they were a Qatari couple with three Canadian kids… My what would the commenters say ??

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I’d wonder who the poor Qataris pissed off in an earlier incarnation to be stuck with 3 Canadian kids. Ugh, but I am biased.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

I be wondering what stage of he!! the Canadian kids were in to be stuck with Qatari parents.

Parwaiz Win
Parwaiz Win
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Everyone seems to be subconsciously racist here !! It does not matter if a Qatari couple adopted 3 Canadians or a donkey adopted 3 Qatari children. Citizenship is not a refection of race in most countries. The whole premise by the investigating officer to show intent by questioning why would people of a different race adopt children from a different race and culture makes the whole incident wrong !!

hohum
hohum
6 years ago

This has made my day! So happy for them!

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago

Can we get this judge to go straighten out the American system now? There seems to be some hinkiness in Ferguson that could stand his critical eye.

Restie
Restie
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

A grand jury made the Ferguson verdict on not to indict, not a singular judge. I’ll leave it to your discretion which is more fair.

There is no need for an appeals trial. The case should have been thrown out on the basis of the discrepancies in evidence such as the coroner’s report and postmortem examination.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Restie

Yup, a grand jury which also made folks like Zimmerman and OJ walk free…

Saleem
Saleem
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Despite DNA evidence linking OJ to the crime too, LOL!

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Zimmerman and OJ were acquitted by trial juries. A Grand Jury and a Trial Jury are two totally different things, neither of which are relevant to the Huangs.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

Now your just being a racist

Restie
Restie
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

As Michael mentioned, these are two very different occurrences (grand vs trial), and they did exonerate Zimmerman and OJ on the basis of being judged by a jury of peers, rather than a single individual.

Say what you will of the American legal system and the media’s obsession with certain trials, it is by far better than that of almost anywhere else in the world in terms of heavily placing a burden of proof upon the prosecutor, which seemed missing in this trial. Wasn’t the argument dogged with motives related to organ trafficking, and inability to understand adoption practices?

BigDaddyDK
BigDaddyDK
6 years ago
Reply to  Restie

It appears that the prosecution built its case on theories without any basis in reality. Hard to win cases that way.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  Restie

Umm, yeah, sorry guys, I wasn’t trying to get us into a debate dealing with the details of how the Americans do things, though that seems to have happened. I was just trying to highlight the similarities.

DohaMomofTwo
DohaMomofTwo
6 years ago

Al Hamdulilah! Praise GOD that the most common of senses was with this appellate court.

Parwaiz Win
Parwaiz Win
6 years ago

Will somebody please fire and charge the medical examiner for lying !! And the prosecutor and the investigating officer/officers too should be investigated if they were aware the medical report was a lie !!

Chilidog
Chilidog
6 years ago

Are they still in prison and not being allowed to leave Qatar? Is it true that immigration confiscated their passports? This poor family….. Probably no chance of getting any restitution from the deceitful prosecutor and/or forensic examiner?

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/11/30/qatar-court-overturns-conviction-us-couple-accused-starving-adopted-daughter/

Butterball
Butterball
6 years ago

I agree completely with Mr. Albanai; they had neglected and failed to give sufficient help to the child.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

My comment , the first on the issue has been erased???? Express your opinion as long as it fits with the Doha News Editorial Team????? Media oppressing the masses now ?????

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