Scales of justice: Indonesia police probe snake interrogation

Brown snake

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.

Police have said sorry after officers pushed a snake towards an alleged "thief" while his hands were tied behind his back - in an effort to make him confess.

The one minute and 20 second video shows the dark brown snake, at least two metres long, wrapped around the handcuffed suspect's neck and waist and an officer pushing its head into the man's face as he becomes increasingly hysterical.

Papua police spokesman Ahmad Musthofa Kamal said the case was being investigated by the internal affairs unit.

"We apologize for the incident", Kamal told the Associated Press.

"The snake was tame and not poisonous or unsafe and the incident was their own idea so they could get admission of guilt as quick as possible", Swadaya said in a statement, adding that stern action had been taken against the officer.

Swadaya added that the officers had been acting on their own initiative to try to get a confession, saying the snake was non-venomous and tame.

"We will work more professionally in the future", he added.

Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman condemned the use of a live snake as interrogation technique, saying it breached police policies and several laws.

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 protesters.

Koman said a snake had also been used in an interrogation of one of her clients, whom she said was a separatist.

Sam Lokon, a member of the West Papua National Committee, reportedly faced similar interrogation methods after being beaten following his arrest in January.

Police and military have carried out a sweeping crackdown on independence supporters after rebel fighters in December killed 19 people working on a construction site for the trans-Papua highway.

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