Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta need not attend all of his trial on charges of crimes against humanity, the International Criminal Court has said.
He is only required to be present at certain key parts of the case, a majority of judges ruled.
Mr Kenyatta has argued that attending the trial in The Hague would prevent him from governing the country.
Both Mr Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto deny charges of organising violence after the 2007 election.
Friday’s ruling states that the Kenyan president must be physically present during the opening and closing statements, hearings where victims “present their views and concerns in person,” the verdict, and any other sessions determined by the court.
The judges said that the exemption was granted “to accommodate the demanding functions of [Mr Kenyatta's] office as President of Kenya”.
The decision was by a majority vote as presiding judge Kuniko Ozaki did not agree with the other two judges.
Last week, the African Union urged the UN Security Council to delay Mr Kenyatta’s trial, which is due to start on 12 November.
African leaders accuse the ICC of unfairly targeting the continent; all the court’s current cases are from Africa, and two serving presidents, Mr Kenyatta and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, have been indicted.
On Thursday a spokesman for the Kenyan presidency, Manoah Esipisu, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme that there “needs to be a balance between the legal process and his right to govern”.
An estimated 1,200 people were killed in the ethnic bloodshed which swept across Kenya after disputed elections in December 2007. Around 600,000 fled their homes.
Mr Ruto’s trial began in September. He too was granted an exemption from attending parts of his trial, but the prosecution lodged an appeal against that decision, which is currently suspended.
The BBC’s Anna Holligan, in The Hague, says the uncertainty over Mr Ruto’s exemption means there is no guarantee that Mr Kenyatta’s will be granted.
Mr Ruto’s trial was adjourned for a week to allow him to return to Nairobi in the aftermath of the Westgate mall siege.
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