A man arrested over desecrating the Chinese flag in North Point a day after China’s National Day has been released on bail.

Zakaria Mezouar, 36, appeared before Principal Magistrate Peter Law at Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

Eastern Law Courts Building. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The case was adjourned to December 1 in order for the prosecution to seek legal advice, according to The Witness. Mezouar, who is Moroccan, was let out on a bail of HK$100.

Mezouar faces charges of desecrating the national flag, desecrating the regional flag and criminal damage in relation to an incident on Sunday, the day following the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, which saw patriotic displays across the city.

Police said officers received a report at around 5:20 a.m. on Sunday saying that flag poles were scattered at the intersection of Electric Road and Watson Road in North Point, with passing vehicles having to run over them.

“CCTV footage taken at 4:18 am showed a foreigner deliberately yanking flag poles and throwing them onto the road while walking along Electric Road,” Chief Inspector Cheung Hang-fai said in a press conference on Wednesday.

North Point decked out with Chinese national flags on the 73rd anniversary of the founding of China on October 1, 2022. Photo: HKFP.

Thirteen Chinese national flags and 12 Hong Kong flags were said to have been on the ground.

Cheung added that the man had walked to North Point from Causeway Bay, and after the incident, continued east on foot for over two hours to Shau Kei Wan.

After analysing CCTV footage and investigating, police arrested Mezouar on Tuesday evening as he was entering a Shau Kei Wan building.

The clothes and shoes he was wearing at the time of the incident were found in his apartment.

Mezouar works in the food and beverage industry and holds a Hong Kong identity card, police said, adding that he married a Hongkonger in 2015.

Hong Kong passed a law last year to criminalise disrespect of the national and regional flags and emblems. Offenders are liable to up to three years in prison and a fine of HK$50,000.

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Hillary Leung

Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.