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Qatar: US couple's adoption death case adjourned

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — A court in Qatar trying an American couple charged with starving their adopted daughter to death on Tuesday adjourned the case until February.

Matthew and Grace Huang were jailed by Qatari authorities on murder charges in January following the death of their 8-year-old adopted daughter, Gloria. They were released from detention last month while they pursue their legal battle but cannot leave the country.

A judge adjourned the case until Feb. 5, and asked the defense to submit a written brief. The reason for the delay was not immediately clear. Eric Volz, managing director of the David House Agency, which is coordinating legal and publicity efforts for the family, said in a statement that he is disappointed by the delay.

"Our clients will continue to fight through the appropriate legal channels in order to demonstrate their innocence," he said Matthew Huang was working in the booming Gulf nation as part of infrastructure improvements for Qatar's hosting of the 2022 World Cup.

The Huangs say their daughter, who was born in Ghana, died of medical problems complicated by unusual eating habits that included periods of binging and self-starvation. They have two other African-born adopted children, who left Qatar in October to live with relatives in the U.S.

Qatar is a small Gulf nation whose local population is dwarfed by large numbers of foreign guest workers contributing to the breakneck development of the energy-rich nation. The case raises questions about possible cultural misunderstandings in a conservative country where Western-style adoptions and cross-cultural families are relatively rare.

Prosecutors allege the couple denied food to Gloria and say she was locked in her room at night. A police investigation questioned why the couple would adopt children who don't share their "hereditary traits," according to the family's website.

Defense witnesses have testified that the girl appeared healthy and active just days before her death in January.

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