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Jakarta, Indonesia – Indonesian police have acknowledged officers terrorized 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.

Police in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua region apologized but also attempted to justify the officers’ actions by saying the snake was not venomous and that they hadn’t resorted to beating the man, who was suspected of theft.

Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman said the interrogation methods were torture and illegal.

She said Sunday it was only the latest of several reports of police and military using snakes to terrorize Papuan detainees and symptomatic of a culture of racism against indigenous Papuans.

Police indicated the incident happened recently, during a crackdown on petty crime in Jayawijaya district.

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