Indonesian police use snake to scare Papuan man

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, Police defended the practice of using snakes during questioning

Indonesian police have apologised for using a snake to terrify a suspected thief after footage appeared online.

Officers in the video laugh as an interrogator drapes the animal on a screaming, handcuffed man in the eastern Papua region.

The suspect was believed to have stolen mobile phones.

The local police chief said it was unprofessional but defended the practice, saying the snake was tame and non-venomous.

"We have taken stern action against the personnel," Tonny Ananda Swadaya reportedly said in a statement, adding that the officers had not physically beaten the man.

They had acted on their own initiative to try to draw a confession from the suspect, he said.

Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman tweeted footage of the event, claiming officers had recently put a pro-Papua independence activist in a cell with a snake.

A voice in the video reportedly threatens to put the snake in the man's mouth and down his trousers.

Reports of human rights abuses are common from Papua, where separatists have long sought independence from Indonesia.

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

In December Papuan Governor Lukas Enembe called on the army to leave the state amid a crackdown on rebels fighting for independence.

Troops sought members of the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement, who killed a number of construction workers earlier in the month.

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