Police sorry after threatening ‘thief’ with snake to get him to confess

Clay Curtis
February 12, 2019

Indonesian police have acknowledged officers terrorised a Papuan man with a live snake after a video of the incident circulated online showing the man screaming in fear and his interrogator laughing.

He's also seen writhing on the ground as he's asked by an officer, "How many times have you stolen mobile phones?"

In an apparent effort to force the suspect into confessing that he'd stolen some mobile phones, the snake was draped over the man's shoulders and wrapped around his neck.

Ahmad Musthofa Kamal, a spokesman for the police force is quoted by the Independent as saying that an internal investigation into the incident has been launched, saying that, "we apologise for the incident". Swadaya added that the officers involved had been disciplined, moved to other locations, and sent for additional ethics training.

"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, adding that stern action had been taken against the officer.

But he added that the suspect was not in physical danger from the serpent.

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Police have reportedly apologised for using the snake but said it was not venomous. "We will work more professionally in the future".

Diaz said the snake was tame and had been kept as a pet at the Jayawijaya police station for some time to scare drunkards, who often caused trouble in the neighbourhood.

Veronica Koman, a human rights lawyer focused on Papua, said by text message that using a snake in this way represented torture and was not a one-off incident in the area.

Koman has said a snake was also used during the interrogation of one of her clients in January.

Papua, one of Indonesia's poorest region, has seen several spasms of violence over the past year, including in December when at least 16 employees of a state-owned company - who were building bridges in a major infrastructure push for the impoverished region - were killed by separatist rebels.

"So they're not surprised" by the video.

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