Indonesian authorities apologize for using snake to interrogate man suspected of stealing phones
The footage shows the man screaming in fright as his interrogators can be heard laughing and repeatedly pushing the snake's head onto the man's face
Authorities in Indonesia have apologized after a video of some of their officers using a live snake to interrogate a man went viral on social media. The footage shows the man screaming in fright as his interrogators can be heard laughing and repeatedly pushing the snake's head onto the man's face.
The authorities in the easternmost Papua region of the country apologized but tried to justify the officers' actions by saying the snake was not a venomous species and that they did not beat the man.
Veronica Koman, a human rights lawyer in Papua, claimed that Sam Lokon, a member of the West Papua National Committee - an organization that advocates for independence from Indonesia - was put into a cell with a snake and also repeatedly beaten after being arrested.
Authorities said that Lokon was arrested after a crackdown on petty crime in the Jayawijaya district, and he was arrested for stealing moble phones.
Independent reported Koman as saying that the interrogation methods that were used by the authorities violated their policies and several other laws.
She also said that there were multiple reports of the authorities and the military using snakes during interrogations of Papuan detainees.
Ternyata penggunaan ular untuk interogasi orang Papua yang ditangkap cukup marak. Terakhir yang diketahui adalah terhadap Sam Lokon anggota KNPB. Video ini kabarnya di Wamena.— Veronica Koman (@VeronicaKoman) February 8, 2019
Snakes are reported being used against West Papuans for interrogation. pic.twitter.com/Rf72r9oJMO
The human rights lawyer said that the video going viral was the reason that authorities issued the "very rare" apology for their methods.
The footage shows a dark brown snake, which looks to be at least 2 meters long, wrapped around the neck and waist of the handcuffed suspect. An officer can be seen pushing the snake's head into the suspect's face as the man gets more and more hysterical. The officers can be heard asking how many times the man stole mobile phones.
Tonny Ananda Swadaya, the Jayawijaya police chief, said in a statement that the officers are now being given ethics training and have been moved to other locations.
Papua polices spokesperson Ahmad Musthofa Kamal said that the officers who were involved in the incident are being questioned by an internal affairs division of the national police.
He said: "We apologize for the incident. 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."
The events are likely to trigger the region further, after tensions over insurgency having eased over the years after Indonesia took over the western half of the island of New Guinea which was a former Dutch colony in the early 1960s.