Police in Indonesia have apologized after a leaked video showed officers putting a live snake around the neck of a suspect during an interrogation.
The disturbing footage is thought to have been filmed recently in a town in the Papua region.
It was posted online by human rights lawyer Veronica Koman.
In the video, the unidentified suspect, whose hands are tied behind his back, is seen screaming as police laugh and taunt him, and demand he confess to stealing mobile phones.
Koman told BuzzFeed News on the phone from Jakarta that she believed the video — which was sent to her anonymously — amounted to torture. The man in the footage is not her client.
She said that while this was likely the first time this interrogation technique had been caught on camera, it was far from the first case she had heard of. “I have long heard of snakes being used in this way,” she said, including against one of her clients, a pro-independence activist who was put in a cell with a snake before being beaten and kicked by police officers.
A spokesperson for police in Papua apologized for the incident, as reported by Indonesian website kompas.com.
Tonny Ananda Swadaya, the local police chief for Wamena, Jayawijaya, where the incident is thought to have been filmed, was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying, “We have taken action against the officers who did the misconduct. We are moving them to other places.”
But Koman called the apology “pathetic,” and said police were only saying sorry because they had been caught, and the video she posted had gone viral. “There’s a culture of impunity,” she said. “They don’t feel any remorse, they just feel the attention.”