DOHA, Qatar (AP) — A judge in Qatar on Tuesday ordered an American couple to remain jailed pending trial on charges of starving to death their 8-year-old adopted daughter. The couple claims the girl died in January from medical problems complicated by anorexia-like bouts.
The case has brought legal support and other aid from groups from California, where the couple lived until 2012, and has highlighted potential cultural misunderstandings in a Gulf nation unfamiliar with adoption.
Judge Abdullah al-Emady ordered Matthew and Grace Huang to remain in detention until at least their next hearing on Nov. 6.
The prosecution alleges the couple denied food to their daughter Gloria, who was born in Ghana and adopted at age 4. They also claim she was locked at night in her room at night.
The couple says the girl had various medical problems and also erratic eating habits, including periods of binging and self-starvation. They say she was not allowed from her room at night because of bizarre behavior during eating sprees, including rummaging through garbage for food.
Officials in Qatar also have raised questions about the adoption procedures, including payments to an adoption agency. This is likely because adoption is virtual unknown in traditional Gulf Arab societies, where extended families would provide care.
In addition, an investigative report by Qatari police raised questions about why the Huangs would adopt children who did not share their "hereditary traits" and raised concerns that the children were part of a human trafficking operation or were "bought" for organ harvesting, according to the family's website.
Matthew Huang was working on water engineering projects as part of infrastructure improvements for Qatar's hosting of the 2022 World Cup. The couple has two other children adopted from Africa.
"We are innocent," he told reporters after Tuesday's hearing. "We are suffering. I hope to be reunited with my wife and children soon."