Scales of justice: Indonesia police probe snake interrogation

Sergio Conner
February 11, 2019

At one stage, the officer appears to try to shove the snake into the man's mouth, while others are heard laughing in the background during the undated video.

A video circulating online showed police in Jayawijaya district wrapping a snake around the neck of the suspect as they questioned him.

The tied man writhes on the ground as officers ask, 'How many times have you stolen mobile phones?' "Only two times", the prisoner is heard saying, as another man rubs the snake on his face.

In a statement, Jayawijaya police chief Tonny Ananda Swadaya issued an apology, saying, 'The investigator was not professional in doing his job'.

During the video, a voice can be heard ordering the man to open his eyes and at one stage threatens to put the snake into his mouth and under his pants.

'We have taken stern action against the personnel, ' he said, adding the officers themselves had not physically attacked the man.

As well as apologising, Papua police said that the officers involved in the incident had been relocated for work and were being investigated.

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"The snake was tame and not poisonous or risky and the incident was their own idea so they could get admission of guilt as quick as possible", Swadaya said in a statement.

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

Veronica Koman, a human rights lawyer documenting government abuses in the West Papua region of Indonesia, tweeted the video of the interrogation and claimed police had used the method before, for example recently putting a snake into a cell with one of her clients-a pro-Papua independence activist.

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

The resource-rich area borders Papua New Guinea and became part of Indonesia in 1969.

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.

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