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June 23, 2017

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Assault was intimidation attempt: Macau lawyer

HONG KONG--A Macau lawyer assaulted in broad daylight in the Chinese gambling haven said Monday the attack was an attempt to intimidate him.

Jorge Menezes said the two assailants used bricks to bash him on the head before fleeing in last week's attack.

The former Portuguese colony has largely shed its reputation for triad violence as it grew into the world's biggest gambling market.

Menezes said he believed the attack was an "act of intimidation" related to his legal work, which involves criminal and civil cases, but he wouldn't say who he thought was behind it.

Macau was rocked by gangland killings in the run-up to its handover to China in 1999 as the triads waged a war for control of lucrative casino VIP rooms. Violence abated as its gambling industry boomed and foreigners opened casinos.

Authorities are eager to develop the city as a family-friendly travel and entertainment destination and diversify the economy away from its reliance on gambling revenues, which rose to US$38 million last year.

Macau, an hour from Hong Kong by high-speed hydrofoil ferry, is a key market for foreign casino operators such as Las Vegas Sands Corp., Wynn Resorts Ltd. and MGM Resorts International, which are investing heavily in new casino resorts.

Menezes said the attack occurred while he was walking his five-year-old son to school on Thursday morning. He said one assailant hit him with a brick on the back of the head. Another man, also armed with a brick, joined in, and they both tried to rain blows on his head.

The bricks his attackers were using were tied to their hands, Menezes said.

"That's a technique that I was told is used by nasty people in mainland China," said Menezes, who injured his arm fending off the blows and required stitches to his head. He reported the attack to police.

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