LOS ANGELES — A married couple from Los Angeles have been jailed in the Middle East on a charge of murder with intent and are being accused of starving their 8-year-old daughter to death, according to a coalition of groups that are working on the case from the United States and trying to draw publicity to what they say are unjust arrests.
Matthew and Grace Huang were arrested in Doha, Qatar, shortly after their daughter, Gloria, died Jan. 15, Alex Simpson, associate director of the nonprofit California Innocence Project said Monday. The Huangs adopted the child from Ghana at age 4.
The couple’s two other children, also adopted from Africa, have been banned from leaving the country and are being cared for by their grandmother, who is living with them there.
The Qatar Embassy did not return a call or e-mail seeking comment.
No one from the Qatar courts, police, or prosecutor’s office could be reached for comment Tuesday. Nathaniel Tek, a US Embassy spokesman in Qatar, declined to comment.
The Huangs moved to Qatar in 2012 so Matthew Huang could work as an engineer on two major infrastructure projects associated with improvements for the 2022 World Cup.
Their daughter, who was severely malnourished in early childhood, would periodically refuse food for several days and then binge-eat or get food from bizarre sources, such as garbage cans or from strangers, a behavior her parents traced to her impoverished upbringing and were trying to address. She would also try to leave the house at night in search of food and pick through the medicine cabinet on late-night binges, according to a report prepared in the United States by Janice Ophoven, a pediatric forensic pathologist who reviewed the case for the family.
The behavior is not uncommon in adopted children who have suffered from severe malnutrition in their past, the report says.