US couple denied request to leave Qatar in child death case

DOHA (AFP) - A US couple in Qatar accused of killing their adopted child to harvest her organs said on Wednesday they feel "kidnapped" by the Gulf emirate, with no verdict expected until late March.

Matthew and Grace Huang, Americans of Asian origin, were arrested in January 2013 after the death of their adopted daughter Gloria, an eight-year-old girl from Ghana, and accused of causing her death in order to sell her organs.

The couple's supporters describe them as a loving family and insist the girl died of an eating disorder caused by the "extreme poverty" she suffered at a young age in the West African country.

The couple were released in November pending trial, but on Wednesday the court denied their request to leave the country to join their other two adopted children in the United States, and said a verdict would be announced March 27, according to a judicial source.

The defence said the public prosecutor is pushing for the death penalty, although Qatar has not had any executions for several years.

"We have lost our daughter and our sons have lost their sister. And this court has taken more than a year of our lives," Matthew Huang said outside the courtroom.

"In the midst of our innocence, we feel we have been kidnapped and we just want to go home."

Both adoption and multiracial families are rare in Qatar, a conservative Gulf Arab emirate, and the family's supporters maintain that authorities misunderstood the Huangs' situation and found it inherently suspicious.

The "Free Grace and Matt" website said police accuse the couple of having adopted the children "in order to harvest their organs, or perhaps to perform medical experiments on them".

The Huangs moved to Qatar in 2012 so Matthew, an engineer, could work on infrastructure projects related to the 2022 World Cup.

The family's supporters describe them as a loving family, and say they have collected supporting testimony from people who knew them in Qatar, which authorities have declined to accept.

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