A verdict against Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants charged with crimes against humanity in connection with an anti-Shiite crackdown in the 1980s will be issued by early next month, with sentences handed out the same day for those found guilty, the chief prosecutor in their trial said Sunday.

Jaafar al-Moussawi said a court hearing would be held no later than three weeks hence to issue verdicts and render a sentences.

CountryWatch: Iraq

The former Iraqi leader could be sentenced to death if convicted. However, he could appeal the sentence before a higher, nine-judge court. His co-defendants include his former deputy, Taha Yassin Ramadan, and his half brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim.

The trial began a year ago with the eight defendants facing charges arising from the deaths of 148 Shiites from the town of Dujail following a 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam in the town north of Baghdad.

That trial adjourned July 27 to allow its five-judge panel to consider a verdict. The court was to have reconvened Monday to hear a verdict.

"There will be no hearing tomorrow," al-Moussawi said. "Instead, there will be a court statement setting the date for the hearing in which sentences will be rendered."

When pressed to give a precise date, he said: "In no longer than three weeks."

That means the hearing would be held by Nov. 6.

Saddam is the chief defendant in another trial, facing genocide charges in connection with a government crackdown in the 1980s against Iraqi Kurds. The prosecution alleges some 180,000 people died in that campaign.

Saddam, his cousin "Chemical" Ali al-Majid and five other co-defendants could face death by hanging if convicted.

Hearings in the second trial will resume Tuesday.