Los Angeles News

LA couple jailed in Qatar released on bail

Wednesday, November 06, 2013
Matthew and Grace Huang are seen with their three adopted children in this undated photo.

Matthew and Grace Huang are seen with their three adopted children in this undated photo.

A Los Angeles couple jailed in Qatar for the death of their 8-year-old daughter is out on bail after spending nearly a year in jail.

Matthew and Grace Huang were arrested in Doha, Qatar, shortly after their daughter, Gloria, died on Jan. 15. The Qatar government is accusing the couple of starving the girl to death.

But the Huangs say Gloria's death was due to a childhood eating disorder, which developed from past malnourishment before she was adopted. She was adopted from Ghana when she was 4.

Wednesday's hearing was the first time since their January arrest that the Huangs were able to argue their case. Matt Huang says he went to check on Gloria, who was supposed to be sleeping, and he found her on the floor, foaming at the mouth and barely breathing.

A Qatari pathologist said Gloria was emaciated, and her death certificate listed dehydration and cachexia -- a rare medical syndrome where the body doesn't absorb nutrients properly -- as the causes of death.

Seven witnesses were called, several of them expatriate friends who were at the house the day before Gloria died. They testified that she appeared to be in good health, playing with her brothers and walking up stairs. The defense argued that it's medically impossible be walking around one day and to die of starvation the next.

After the hearing, the couple was released on bail, but they're still banned from traveling to the United States. The couple's two other adopted children are with relatives in the U.S.

"Though we see this as a positive step, their trial is not over," Grace Huang's brother said in a statement. "Until then, our family prays that the hearts and minds of the judicial leaders will be pointed to the truth."

ABC News contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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