Diplomat could return in plea bargain: lawyer


By Joseph Yeh, The China Post and CNA

The Taiwanese envoy in Kansas City who has been detained since Nov. 10 on charges of violating United States labor laws, may be deported in the next few days as part of a plea bargain reached with prosecutors, her lawyer said yesterday in U.S.

James Wirken, attorney for the detained Jacqueline Liu, director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Kansas City, told reporters that he has reached a plea agreement with prosecutors on the case. After his talks with U.S. prosecutors, Wirken said Liu has agreed to plead guilty to the charge of foreign labor fraud, adding that he is seeking to have Liu placed on probation and deported. “We are going to plead guilty to the single charge (foreign labor fraud) that’s against her,” he said, adding that Liu was not charged with mistreating the housekeeper in question.

Liu would plead guilty at a waiver and plea hearing to be held by federal district court for the Western District of Missouri, scheduled to be staged around midnight today Taiwan time.

He said he is seeking to have Liu sentenced to probation and deported immediately. Liu cannot be deported until she is sentenced, Wirken said. If the judge agrees to the plea bargain terms, Wirken said, the curtain would fall on the Liu case and the envoy could leave America for Taiwan very soon.

The final ruling will be made no later than next week, he said, adding that Liu could return to Taiwan before the Thanksgiving (Nov. 24).

One of the agreements reached with prosecutors was that Liu has to pay her Filipina housekeeper, Wirken said, but he did not disclose the amount of the proposed payment.

But even if Liu ultimately was sent back to the country, she could face investigations of local authorities on these charges made against her, according to local media reports. Liu, 64, was arrested and detained Nov. 10, by FBI agents over alleged violations of U.S. federal law by hiring a Filipino housekeeper.

During a previous detention hearing, Liu was remanded in custody after waiving her right to bond. Legal Fees Paid by Liu’s Family: Lawyer Meanwhile, Wirken said the attorney fee for the Liu’s case was paid by her family and not by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). The representative’s family members will also attend the upcoming hearing, he noted. The attorney’s remark came after local media reported that the MOFA would cover all legal fees for the case, which may run up to several million U.S. dollars. The ministry had previously refuted the report, saying that Wirken represented only Liu and not the government, and therefore Liu, not the ministry, would have to be responsible for the legal fees. Back in Taiwan, MOFA spokesman James Chang refused to comment when questioned about Wirken’s remarks. “The case is still being negotiated between the attorney and the prosecutors, the MOFA will not comment on it until it has been finalized,” he said.