Police in eastern Indonesia have apologised for using a snake to torture a man in custody, after footage of the reptile-assisted interrogation went viral online.
An officer in the Indonesian province Papua, which borders Papua New Guinea, was filmed wrapping a large snake around a man who had his hands bound as the animal slithered around him. The man, who screamed during the ordeal as onlookers laughed, was suspected of having stolen a mobile phone.
As well as apologising, Papua police said that the officers involved in the incident had been relocated for work and were being investigated.
The torture victim has not been publicly identified but is believed to be a native Papuan. Lawyers and activists said that his treatment may have been racially motivated, part of a culture of persecution by Indonesian authorities against indigenous people in the Papua and West Papua provinces.
The video went viral after Veronica Koman, a human rights lawyer focusing on Papuan issues, shared it on Twitter. She told The Telegraph that the interrogation was indicative of police attitudes on her patch.
Ms Koman claimed that Sam Lokon, a member of the National Committee for West Papua activist group, faced a similar snake session after being arrested last month. “He was beaten, kicked, slapped, and his head was pushed towards the snake to force him admit that he had stolen a motorbike,” she said.