The Prosecution’s first witness in the ongoing murder trial at Criminal Court ‘A,’ on Tuesday, April 1, linked several prominent citizens of Grand Bassa County to the death of Michel Bruno, a Belgian national.
Witness Junior Johnson alleged a meeting held among the defendants, one of them, Arthur Crusoe, told his friends about a carton of single-barrel guns offered them by some prominent individuals in the County for the operation that killed Bruno.
Bruno, then plantation manager of Liberia Agriculture Company (LAC) in November 2007, was shot and killed with a single-barrel gun by the defendants, which claim the accused denied when they appeared before the Court.
During the meeting, Crusoe allegedly disclosed to his colleagues that “our big, big people sent us a carton as a means of informing us about the seriousness of our land that has been illegally occupied by LAC,” Johnson quoted defendant Crusoe when he testified on Tuesday.
Johnson did not name the prominent citizens; neither did he say anything about being a part of the meeting.
In his testimony, witness Johnson further alleged, “I was hiding and watching them when the discussion to kill LAC managers was held.”
According to him, at the meeting he heard the defendants shouting: “This gunshot is to bring Bruno the hog, down. If we kill him, LAC will be afraid to expand their company’s project in our District #3.”
Before their gathering, Johnson said, he met one of the defendants—Musa Dobai and a man he identified as “Papay”— holding discussions about the meeting at LAC’s junction.
It was during that meeting of the two, Johnson claimed, that Dobai informed Papay about their meeting in Gardowhien Town.
It had been at the mentioning of Gardowhien Town, that Johnson had decided to secretly follow them, he said.
He also named the head of the council of chiefs in the area as one of those at Crusoe’s meeting.
“At the meeting, the [head of the] Council of Chiefs asked the men what was in the carton and suggested that they opened it,” Johnson further explained.
Following the chief’s suggestion, Dobai advised Crusoe to open the carton; he did.
“When the carton was opened the council chief shouted: “it is single-barrel gunshots,” Witness Johnson said he heard the Chief say from his secret hideout.
After that, the chief told them that he was not going to be a part of the plan.
He quoted the chief as saying, “What you are doing, I am not part of it.
Since I have been living in our district, I never saw LAC and our district people fighting over land issue.”
When the chief expressed his dissatisfaction about the plan, according to Johnson, “Crusoe instructed him to go away from them, because they were going ahead with their plan. Crusoe later distributed the gunshot among the defendants and told them that they were going to set an ambush the following day for the operation,” Johnson alleged.
“I left the area and reported all what they said to my boss man, Bruno. I even begged him not to go to the area because an ambush was there for him. He informed me that he was going to give the people US$10,000 the next day to quiet down the confusion.
"Surprisingly, he and the other managers fail to heed my advice and they went ahead to the area, where he was shot and killed instantly.
“That morning, when I woke up, I saw Bruno and the other managers going to the area where the ambush had been set. They left and I heard a gun sound after five minutes.”
“When we got there we saw Bruno’s body lying on the ground with bullet wounds,” witness Johnson explained.