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U.S. bristles at sentence meted by Qatar in adoptive daughter'sstarvation death

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By Reuters
Thursday, March 27, 2014, 5:51 p.m.

DOHA — A Los Angeles couple was sentenced to three years in jail on Thursday in Qatar for causing the death of their adopted African-born daughter, who was found to have died of starvation, in a case that has raised concern in Washington.

Matthew and Grace Huang were arrested in January last year when their 8-year-old daughter, Gloria, died unexpectedly.

An autopsy found she had died of “forced starvation” and malnutrition. But the couple argued she had been suffering from malnutrition-related diseases since they adopted her from Ghana at the age of 4 and that the Qatari authorities had failed to acknowledge this.

“We have just been wrongfully convicted, and we feel as if we are being kidnapped by the Qatar judicial system,” Matthew Huang said. “This verdict is wrong and appears to be nothing more than an effort to save face.”

A website begun to publicize the case said Matthew, a Stanford-trained engineer, had moved to Qatar with his wife and their three young children in 2012 to help oversee a big infrastructure project related to the 2022 soccer World Cup.

The State Department said on Wednesday that 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 reading the verdict did not specify what offense the couple had been convicted of, but the prosecution had earlier downgraded an original charge of premeditated murder to one of “murder by negligence.”

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