Qatar jails US pair over daughter's 'organ harvesting' death

Matthew and Grace Huang outside the court in Doha, Qatar (27 March 2014) Matthew and Grace Huang were not immediately re-arrested after their sentence was handed down

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A court in Qatar has sentenced an American couple to three years in prison over the death of their eight-year-old adopted daughter.

The judge did not specify the exact charges of which they were convicted.

But prosecutors had accused Matthew and Grace Huang of fatally starving their daughter Gloria, originally from Ghana, so that they could harvest her organs.

The couple said it was "ridiculous" and that Gloria died from complications related to an eating disorder.

"We have just been wrongfully convicted and we feel as if we are being kidnapped by the Qatar judicial system," Mr Huang told reporters outside the court.

"This verdict is wrong and appears to be nothing more than an effort to save face," he added.

They were also ordered to pay a fine of 15,000 Qatari riyals ($4,100; £2,490) each and will be deported after serving their sentences. The prosecution had demanded the death penalty.

Post-mortem questioned

The couple and their three young children - Gloria and two boys - moved to Qatar in 2012 when Mr Huang, an engineer, got a job working on a construction project for the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

He and his wife were arrested in January 2013 after Gloria died in hospital after having not eaten for four days.

Undated photograph of Grace Huang with her three children, including Gloria The Huangs' two sons were eventually permitted to return to the US with their grandmother

They attributed this to "an eating disorder, a legacy of her impoverished childhood in Ghana, in which she would sometimes fast, binge-eat or steal food", according to their website.

However, the police concluded that the Huangs, who are of Asian descent, were child traffickers and accused them of depriving Gloria of food and water "in order to harvest their organs, or perhaps to perform medical experiments on them", the website adds.

The other two children were placed in government custody but were eventually permitted to return to the US with Mrs Huang's mother. The couple were meanwhile remanded in custody until November, when they were granted bail but ordered to remain in the emirate.

Gloria's death certificate states that she died of "dehydration and cachexia", a disorder that results in dramatic weight loss and muscle atrophy.

However, according to the New York Times, a second post-mortem conducted by a pathologist in California in March found no evidence that tissue from the brain or other organs had been sectioned or cut for analysis - a standard procedure.

Qatari prosecutors asserted that chunks of organs had been examined microscopically, but provided no samples or photographs.

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