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John Cencich


Professor John Cencich has spent the past 20 years as a member of the faculty at California University of Pennsylvania (soon to be Pennsylvania Western University) where he specializes in constitutional policing, organized crime, and international criminal law and justice. Prior to that, he retired after a 20-year career in law enforcement and criminal investigation (including a special attachment to Scotland Yard), which was followed by a 4-year appointment with the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Headquartered at The Hague, he was the senior American war crimes investigator for the Office of the Prosecutor and led one of the largest international criminal investigations since the Second World War. Cases involved war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, sexual assault, hostage taking, and torture. The Accused in these cases were high-ranking political, military, police, intelligence, and organized crime officials. Professor Cencich was the co-architect of the prosecution theory of the joint criminal enterprise, which formed the principal legal framework for the indictment and prosecution of the first sitting head-of-state for atrocities carried out pursuant to his official capacity as president. He is the director of the Pennsylvania Center for Investigative and Forensic Sciences where he focuses research, teaching, and consultations in the areas of cold-case homicide strategies and wrongful convictions.

At Pitt Law, Professor Cencich blends his real-world experience investigating, tracking down, and prosecuting international war criminals with his scholarship of teaching and learning. This course takes students from the post-World War II Nuremberg trials to the modern-day world of international criminal law and major crime investigation and prosecution, including crimes against humanity, genocide, and terrorism.