TIRANA, Albania (AP) _ The widow of former Communist dictator Enver Hoxha vigorously proclaimed her innocence Saturday in her trial on charges of abusing power and misappropriating state funds.

The trial of Nexhmije Hoxha (Nedj-ME-ya HO-cha) is Albania's first of a member of the former Communist elite, which isolated Albania from most of the world for four decades until the dictator's death in 1985.

''I'm here today not because of those charges of misappropriation and abuse of power, but because I was the wife of Enver Hoxha,'' the 72-year-old defendant said on the second day of her trial in a bleak Tirana courtroom.

''This is a political trial,'' she declared in a strong, high-pitched voice as she read her one-hour, 15-minute statement. ''I am innocent.''

Hoxha was a powerful Communist in her own right and was thought to be one of those who opposed reforms in the second half of the 1980s, when Albania gradually opened to the rest of the world.

Before reading her statement, she complained she had been handcuffed earlier in the day, even though she was ill. She was not handcuffed when she entered the courtroom.

As she read her statement, she appeared healthy and paused only briefly to drink water or listen to a question from Judge Muharrem Kushe, who is trying the case along with two civilians.

She is accused of misusing the equivalent of $75,000 between 1985-1990, and of defrauding Albania of a smaller amount by not paying the full value of goods and services purchased for her by the state.

Hoxha argued the expenses were not illegal because Albania at the time was a one-party state in which the ''decisions of the party had the same value as laws.''

If convicted, she could face seven to 25 years in prison. Albanian law permits the death penalty for severe economic crimes, but that seemed unlikely in her case.

The anti-Communist Democratic Party won elections in spring 1992, ending the Communist period. The country, Europe's poorest, is now struggling with high unemployment and a breakdown of law and order.

Hoxha has been in jail since December 1991 awaiting trial.

On trial with her is Kino Buxheli, the former chief of the government office that provided the Communist elite with privileges. Buxheli declared his innocence Friday.