A year after the arrest of Matthew and Grace Huang for allegedly forcing starvation to adopted daughter, the American couple from Los Angeles had been sentenced to spend three years in jail in Qatar, according to reports.
"We have just been wrongfully convicted and we feel as if we are being kidnapped by the Qatar judicial system," Matthew Huang told the media outside the courthouse in Qatar. "This verdict is wrong and appears to be nothing more than an effort to save face."
But not everyone believes or has the same verdict. A Web site named "Free Matt and Grace" states that Matthew and Grace Huang are both "institutionally kidnapped in the Middle East."
The said Web site raises the awareness about the "wrongful imprisonment" of the Los Angeles couple in Qatar, wherein they were "falsely accused" of causing the death of their 8-year-old adopted daughter Gloria.
The couple disagreed with the autopsy report saying that Gloria died of "forced starvation and malnutrition." Matthew and Grace Huang argued that their adopted daughter had been suffering from malnutrition since the adoption of Gloria at the age of 4.
In 2012, according to the Web site, Matthew and Grace Huang together with their three children had moved to Qatar to supervise a big infrastructure project linked to the 2022 Soccer World cup.
But in January 15, 2013, Gloria died unexpectedly and the Qatari authorities charged the couple with "premeditated murder" the next day.
In an Al Arabiya report, the Los Angeles couple was said to be released in November 2013 for their pending trial. The court, though, did not permit the couple to leave Qatar and join their two other adopted children in the U.S.
On Wednesday, March 26, Reuters reported that the U.S. State Department said that the state of Washington was concerned by "indications that not all of the evidence was being weighed by the court and that cultural misunderstandings may have been leading to an unfair trial."
The judge who read the couple's verdict did not specify as to what offense the couple had been exactly convicted of, but the charge was said to have been previously downgraded to "murder by negligence."
Supporters of Matthew and Grace Huang could not accept the verdict. As a result, their supporters collected supporting testimonies from Qataris who knew the couple. The couple was described as a loving family, but the Qatari authorities would not accept it.
Matthew and Grace Huang were sentenced to three years in jail with 15 thousand riyals fine, equivalent to more than four thousand dollars, and would be expelled from Qatar after completing their sentences.