Horrific footage has been shared online by a human rights activist which purports to show Indonesian police torturing a man by locking him in a cell with a live, two-meter-long snake while taunting and laughing at him.

Police in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua region apologized, but also claimed that the snake was not venomous and they spared the suspected thief a physical beating.

In the video, the handcuffed man, suspected of stealing mobile phones, screams in fear as his interrogator laughs and a voice can be heard threatening to put the snake into the suspect’s mouth and trousers.

Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman shared the footage saying it was indicative of a culture of racism against indigenous Papuans in Indonesia. One of the interrogators can be seen pushing the dark brown snake’s head into the man’s face as he weeps and cries hysterically.

“We have taken stern action against the personnel,” police chief Tonny Ananda Swadaya reportedly said in a statement. Swadaya added that the officers involved had been disciplined, moved to other locations, and sent for additional ethics training.

Sam Lokon, a member of the West Papua National Committee, reportedly faced similar interrogation methods after being beaten following his arrest in January.

Papuan separatists have fought since the 60s for independence following annexation of the resource-rich border areas of the country by Indonesia in 1969.

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