Daphne Caruana Galizia has been awarded the 2018 Mario Francese prize for investigative journalism. In its 21st year, this is the first time the honour has ever been awarded to a non-Italian.

The citation says the honour is “for Daphne Caruana Galizia who, searching for truth in a complex reality and determined to expose the connections between crime, political power and economic interests which stifle freedom, paid with her life defending citizens’ rights which are threatened by forces aimed at suffocating democracy and civic coexistence”. The prize was presented during an event, “Freedom of the press under attack”, held at the Vittorio Emanuele lyceum in Palermo earlier this week, which included awards for several professional and student journalists.

“Our family faced years of silence when my father died,” Palermo Journalists’ Association President Giulio Francese said following the award presentation. “In Daphne Caruana Galizia’s case, the Daphne Project, an international consortium of journalists, has decided to continue her work. We journalists need to communicate our work among ourselves, and to young people and the rest of civil society.”

The Mario and Giuseppe Francese prizes commemorate two investigative journalists, a father and his youngest son. Mario Francese documented the Corleone mafia at a time when investigative journalism was unusual in Sicily and when the very existence of the mafia was masked by omerta’. In retribution, Mario Francese was gunned down outside his home on 26 January 1979, the first in a series of hundreds of murders.

The investigation into Mario Francese’s murder was shelved for years and only reopened thanks to indepth research by his youngest son, Giuseppe. Only 12 years old when his father died, Giuseppe later took up journalism and devoted himself to documenting his father’s case and work. His research led to the trial and conviction of his father’s killers, and tragically to his own death.

The 2001 trials of Mario Francese’s assassins and their mandators ended with a 30-year sentence for Cosa Nostra’s leaders and life imprisonment for another defendant. The judicial sentence acknowledged Mario Francese’s “extraordinary ability to make connections between the most significant news events, to interpret them with courageous intelligence, and to trace with exceptional clarity and credibility the evolution of Cosa Nostra.”

Mario and Giuseppe Francese are commemorated every year, inspiring new generations of journalists. The man responsible for their death died in prison.