Indonesian police apologise for using snake to interrogate suspect

Lester Mason
February 11, 2019

"Only two times", the prisoner is heard saying, as another man rubs the snake on his face. In the video, the handcuffed man, suspected of stealing mobile phones, screams in fear as his interrogator laughs and a voice can be heard threatening to put the snake into the suspect's mouth and pants.

Police have reportedly apologised for using the snake but said it was not venomous.

Video of the incident that circulated online over the weekend shows a man with a snake draped around his neck as officers taunt him, ordering him to admit to the theft or face having the reptile put in his mouth or his trousers.

Jayawijaya police chief Tonny Ananda Swadaya said in a statement the officers had been disciplined by being given ethics training and moved to other locations.

A voice off-camera can be heard ordering the man to keep his eyes open as the snake is pushed towards him.

Ahmad Musthofa Kamal, a spokesperson for the Papua police force, said an investigation had been launched by the internal affairs unit. He also stressed that the officers involved had been acting on their own initiative to try to extract a confession and had not physically assaulted the suspect.

"We apologise for the incident", he told AP. "Institutionally we do not recognize such an unprofessional method of interrogation, and we guarantee that such an inhuman method will not happen again in the future".

Indonesian security forces have been repeatedly accused of using excessive force and committing rights abuses against Papua's ethnic Melanesian population including extrajudicial killings of activists and peaceful protestors.

The former Dutch colony, the resource-rich western part New Guinea island, was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticized UN-backed referendum in 1969.

A lawyer, who advocates for human rights in Papua, Veronica Koman, said police often used snakes while interrogating Papuans, including those arrested for suspected separatist activities.

"They have long known that snakes are being used by police and the military (in interrogations)", she said.

Indonesian police and military have implemented a crackdown on independence activists after a December incident when separatist fighters killed 19 labourers on a construction site for the trans-Papua highway.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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