DHAKA - Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia has again won a delay in her trial on embezzlement charges which had been due to start Wednesday, a case that could see her jailed for life.

Zia's lawyers filed a last-minute petition against the trial which had been scheduled to begin in a special anti-corruption court in Dhaka, the latest legal tactic by her team in the high-profile case. The lawyers argued in the High Court that the trial judge's appointment was "not done lawfully" and the hearing could not go ahead until the court had ruled on its petition.  "The trial court has approved our appeal for time since the petition is pending in the High Court. The hearing in the trial court will now take place on June 19," her lawyer Sanaullah Miah told AFP.

Prosecutors have accused Zia's lawyers of time-wasting, saying proceedings have been delayed some 34 times in the case. Prosecutors say Zia and three of her co-accused siphoned off 31.5m taka (about $400,000) from a charitable trust named after her late husband Ziaur Rahman.

She is also accused of leading a group of five people, including her eldest son, in embezzling 21.5 million taka ($277,000) - funds which were meant to go to an orphanage set up in memory of her late husband.

Zia, who has been excused from attending the trial, has called the charges politically motivated, aimed at destroying her opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which has vowed to topple the government of arch rival Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The two-time former prime minister was charged just weeks after Hasina was re-elected in a January 5 general election which the centre-right BNP and its 18 opposition allies boycotted and denounced as a farce.

The charges date back to Zia's last term as prime minister from 2001 to 2006 and can carry a life sentence, prosecutors have said.

Zia, who first became premier in 1991, has a famously poisonous relationship with Hasina - an enmity which dates back three decades.

Hasina was overwhelmingly re-elected at the January polls in what was effectively a one-horse race after the BNP and other opposition parties refused to field candidates over rigging fears.

Nearly 200 people died in political violence surrounding the election as the opposition and security forces fought pitched battles.