US judge sets sentencing hearing for Kansas City diplomat Liu for Jan. 27

The China Post

By Joseph Yeh–The sentencing hearing for former Taiwan representative to Kansas City Jacqueline Liu, who has been detained on labor fraud charges since last November, is scheduled for Jan. 27, a spokesman said Monday. Don Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri, confirmed the sentencing date in an email sent to local reporters discussing Liu’s case.

The announcement means Liu will have to spend the upcoming Lunar New Year’s Eve, which falls on Jan. 22 this year, at the detention center. The 64-year-old Liu has been detained since Nov. 10, 2011, when she was arrested by FBI agents on charges of underpaying and overworking her two Filipino housekeepers. During a hearing held last November, the Taiwanese diplomat pleaded guilty to the charges, but the U.S. District Judge David Gregory Kays responsible for the case did not accept her plea bargain immediately at the hearing, saying that more time was needed to review the deal. Kays is expected to decide whether to accept the plea bargain at the sentencing hearing set to be held later this month.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday also confirmed the hearing date. MOFA spokesman James Chang said the ministry will continue to stick on to its current two-tier approach in handling the case. Liu’s U.S. lawyer will take care of the case legally while foreign officials will continue to negotiate with American counterparts diplomatically and insisted that Liu should enjoy immunity treatment based on the 1980 Agreement on Privileges, Exemptions and Immunities accord, Chang said.