updated 5/25/2010 5:20:36 PM ET 2010-05-25T21:20:36

The only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, released last year from a British prison on compassionate grounds, is alive but very sick, the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said Tuesday.

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi has "very serious health troubles," Saif al-Islam Gadhafi said.

"He has cancer at a very advanced stage; that is all I know about his condition," Gadhafi said during a question session after a speech at the London School of Economics. "Two facts: Number one, he's in Libya, and number two, he's very sick."

Al-Megrahi, who has prostate cancer, was convicted in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. He was freed from a Scottish prison in August on compassionate grounds because he was terminally ill, and he returned to Libya.

Doctors gave him only three months to live when he was released.

Critics have accused British authorities of putting commercial interests in Libya ahead of concerns for the families of the victims — many of whom were American college students.

Gadhafi, who earned a Ph.D. from the London university in 2009, spoke mainly about his hopes for democracy in Libya, an aspiration of which he said his father is "very supportive."

Libya wants to develop its tourism industry and needs to build an economy that's not reliant solely on oil and gas, Gadhafi said, adding that it is looking to Europe for future opportunities — and visitors.

"Libya is a Mediterranean country ... and our biggest trading partners are the Europeans, not the Africans, not the Arabs," he said. "Our biggest clients for us are Europeans. We send our people to study in Europe. We are building hotels for Europeans, not Africans. This is a fact. And we are getting technology and know-how from Europe.

"So the Europe and the Mediterranean is very important for us," Gadhafi said.

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