A Silver Spring researcher was convicted of animal cruelty yesterday in the first prosecution of a scientist under Maryland's anticruelty statute.

After deliberating more than three days, a Montgomery County Circuit Court jury found Dr. Edward Taub guilty of failing to provide proper veterinary care for a monkey, Nero, during experiments at the Institute for Behavioral Research. Nero's left arm has since been amputated.

The jury acquitted Taub on five other counts of animal cruelty, a finding that Taub hailed as "vindication for my research." Taub was appealing his conviction by a District Court judge who had found him guilty of cruelty to all six monkeys.

Taub said yesterday he will make a further appeal. "The issues placed before the jury were very technical," Taub said. "The jury simply did not understand these things."

Animal welfare activists hailed the conviction and hoped it would set a nationwide example.

"An animal has a right not to become a victim of cruelty and mistreatment and the jury's decision confirms that right," said John A. Hoyt, president of the Humane Society of the United States.

The 2 1/2 week trial was the culmination of a case that attracted national attention after Montgomery County police staged an early-morning raid on Taub's laboratory and seized 17 research monkeys last September. The raid resulted from information provided to police by Alex Pacheco, a George Washington University graduate student and member of an animal humanist group, who infiltrated Taub's lab as an aide.

Throughout the case, Taub portrayed himself as a martyr for the cause of scientific freedom, in the mold of scientists such as Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake during a religious inquisition. "What we're dealing with is an orchestrated and ruthless attack on the use of animals in research," Taub said, adding that he would continue his fight "against the forces of ignorance and anti-intellectualism."